Amid a new wave of bills in state legislatures that would enable anti-LGBT discrimination, outgoing White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday states should look to the defeat of former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory for guidance on moving forward.
Earnest made the remarks in response to a question from the Washington Blade on whether the incoming Trump administration should speak out against the measures — such as anti-trans bills that have emerged in states like Texas, Kentucky, Virginia and Indiana — just as the Obama administration has denounced anti-LGBT state initiatives.
“I think the first observation I would make is I’d encourage the leaders of the states that you named to consult with outgoing North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory about whether or not that’s a particularly smart political idea,” Earnest said. “I’m not sure that it is.”
Earnest also referenced the estimated $400 million in economic loss to North Carolina over House Bill 2, which prohibits pro-LGBT non-discrimination city ordinances and bars transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity.
“I would also encourage them to contact the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce to determine whether or not the state of North Carolina benefited economically from implementing these policies,” Earnest said. “They did not when you consider the business decisions that were made by not just high-profile organizations like the NCAA and the NBA, but also other businesses that were looking to expand their footprint and expand their business in that state. They chose not to do so because they were concerned that their employees and their customers were at heightened risk of being discriminated against.”
Earnest acknowledged under the U.S. system of government states can “pass and implement laws as they see fit,” but again advised others to the look to the experience of North Carolina.
When the Blade pointed out the position of the Obama administration on these measures is known, Earnest quipped, “I haven’t really kept it a secret, have I?”
Asked again whether the Trump administration should articulate the same view, Earnest declined to answer directly, but asserted condemnation of anti-LGBT measures was the right choice for him as White House press secretary.
“The incoming administration is going to be responsible for what they choose to advocate for,” Earnest said. “I’ve always been proud to stand at this podium and advocate for fairness and justice and equal treatment of every single American. The incoming administration will have to determine if they’re going to do the same thing.”