The death of the religious freedom bill signals new political realities

by | Apr 24, 2015 | Editor's Blog, Gay Marriage, LGBT Rights, NC Politics | 2 comments

The religious freedom bill in North Carolina is dead for this session. It’s demise is a testament to how far and how fast views have changed on LGBT rights. We also saw three trends that will play out in North Carolina in coming years.

First, the LGBT community has proven itself to be well organized, focused and effective.  Equality North Carolina and its allies like the Campaign for Southern Equality put together a powerful coalition and seized opportunities, controlling the message of the debate when the issue blew up nationally. Second, the business community in North Carolina clearly values its LGBT employees and is willing to use political muscle to call out and discourage discrimination. Finally, House Speaker Tim Moore is showed that he’s found his political footing.

Just three years ago, North Carolina voted overwhelmingly to add an unconstitutional amendment to its constitution. The loss could have led to demoralization and infighting. Instead, the LGBT community stayed focus and cohesive, strengthening its resolve. It paid off yesterday and will in future battles.

The reaction by business leaders to the religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas caught Republicans off guard. Corporate America has clearly decided that the battle for equality is settled and they are ready to move forward. Businesses and CEOs aren’t going to sit idly by while some of their best employees are treated as second class citizens. More importantly, though, they’re sending a signal to the GOP that it’s time to end the culture wars and get back issues that matter to them, like lower taxes and less regulation.

Speaker Tim Moore proved that he’s no Thom Tillis. Tillis quite likely would have pandered to his right flank or got rolled by some Senate bill. Not Moore. He outflanked his Senate counterparts by declaring the bill dead before the Senate even had a chance to pass anything. On the same day he declared the religious freedom bill dead, social conservatives were celebrating a victory that extended the waiting period for abortions. He adroitly kept both the business Republicans and social conservatives mollified.

It’s a new day in North Carolina. The LGBT community has proven that it is organized and has real clout. The business community is not going tolerate regressive policies that harm their employees or economic development efforts. And Tim Moore is proving that he can run with the big dogs. 


  1. Apply Liberally

    In the N&O article (your first link), two things are really comical. One is Rep. Stam again admitting that he was caught unaware that the bill was dead. This is at least the third time in the last two sessions that Stam has acknowledged being out of the leadership loop he’s supposed to be in (one instance was when he found out afterwards that a bill he had just voted for would change an 80-year-old formula for funding enrollment increases in public schools). Why do voters keep returning this House Speaker Pro Temp but actually clueless and disconnected guy to office?

    The other is Sen. Berger, knowing that the bill is dead for this session, promising that he and his Senate troglodytes will scour the state’s constitution to see if enough protections already exist for religious freedoms. Really? An attorney by trade, leader of the State Senate, and booster of the religious freedom bill now, at the bill’s postmortem, decides to explore whether such a bill is really needed? He’s either not a bright guy, or a sloppy legislator, or he’s just trying to show his Christian legions that he’s still working hard on their behalf.

  2. Evan

    The reports of Tim Moore’s heroics are greatly exaggerated (and premature)

    “Moore on #SB2 (exempt magistrates from marriage): “The overwhelming majority supports that and it’s my intention that we take it up.” #ncpol”

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