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An open letter to Governor Pat McCrory

April 07, 2016

Dear Governor McCrory,

I am a Canadian with a special fondness for North Carolina and its people. Back in 2011 before starting our family, my wife and I spent two wonderful and adventurous weeks traveling through your state from West to East. In particular we enjoyed camping in the Smoky Mountains, river tubing in Cherokee, and the farmers’ markets, music and other local culture in Asheville. And don’t even get me started on the Outer Banks! We stayed on a few days extra in Ocracoke, finding it to be a jewel of a community with rich history, stellar beaches and, above all, warm, friendly and soulful people. In years since, I have always spoken enthusiastically about your state to anyone who would listen. It was really a privilege to visit.

But here’s where it gets complicated for me. The more I learn about your state, the more I see that my experience really was a privilege, and in more ways than I knew. Certainly we could talk about race; for instance, your state’s ongoing issues with structural racism and violence towards African Americans. It is all too easy for my wife and I to boast of our wonderful trip when, as a middle class white couple, we were all but invisible to the kinds of discrimination and scrutiny such people routinely face. But today I want to talk about another piece of news, one that greatly disturbed me this week. It pains me that you have signed House Bill 2 into law, invalidating local nondiscrimination ordinances – effectively sanctioning the discrimination of LGBTQI people by rolling back nondiscrimination protections and increasing the vulnerability of transgender (and arguably intersex) individuals. It fails by any measure of civil equality, pushes an antiquated and reductive view of gender, and is not based in sound evidence. The fact that you and other supporters of the bill would ram through legislation quashing an imaginary epidemic of cross-dressing predators in restrooms invites three interpretations: sloppy statecraft, or bigotry, or both. I sincerely hope that it is the first option, and that you simply don’t know what you’re doing – even though that is serious enough and has real, dangerous repercussions.

For this, I join the growing number of individuals and corporations who will provisionally cease to do business with your state. In my case, and in my family’s case, this means cessation of all tourism and recommendation of tourism to North Carolina until such time as you or someone else fixes this grievous affront to equal civil rights that you have signed into law.

I’m father to a wonderful little boy. He enjoys all the things I described above – beaches, the outdoors, music – everything your fine state and its people have to offer. However until he comes of age and can make such decisions on his own, he will regrettably not get to enjoy North Carolina in the way that his mother and I once did. Under my watch he will not learn that the privilege we enjoy as a traditional nuclear family is normal, just and good. He will learn to question it, and to build a more equitable society. Who knows – my beautiful son might be an LGBTQ person himself one day, and he would be no less deserving of equal treatment and respect for that.

I ask that you reconsider not only the rights and welfare of LGBTQI persons who are affected by HB-2, but also the welfare of all of your people, who stand to be economically hurt and have their reputations damaged by your short-sighted decision. I take heart in knowing that there is a vocal opposition to HB-2 among North Carolinians, and I look forward to a better day when my family and I can visit again.

For a better world,

Matt McLennan 


** Governor McCrory may be contacted by email at:

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