(Weekly column)

gap-780x439Facing a torrent of criticism for signing a discriminatory anti-LGBT bill, North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory took baby steps away from the measure. With a threatened exodus of corporations, the governor signed an executive order on Tuesday that barred discrimination based on sexual orientation for state workers. Unfortunately, he defiantly and brazenly reaffirmed a provision in the law that restricted bathroom access for transgender people.

The Gov.’s halfhearted attempt to make peace will likely satisfy no one. The gay community will not be divided and conquered by lowly attempts to demonize our transgender brothers and sisters. In North Carolina, you can no longer put minorities on the back of the bus. We also won’t throw transgender people under the bus.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina responded to the governor:

“Governor McCrory’s actions today are a poor effort to save face after his sweeping attacks on the L.G.B.T. community, and they fall far short of correcting the damage done when he signed into law the harmful House Bill 2,” said Sarah Preston, the ACLU NC’s acting executive director.

Corporations spurred Tuesday’s actions, not McCrory’s conscience. He did the bare minimum and retreated out of necessity. Pay Pal had already decided not to expand operations further in North Carolina, costing the state 400 jobs. The National Basketball Association hinted that it could move its 2017 All-Star Game. Deutsch Bank announced that the company would freeze plans to create 250 new jobs in Cary, North Carolina. Even a pornography site, XHamster.com banned all naughty pictures from the state. When residents checked out the site, they found a black screen on their computers.

Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro. The man who sings “Born in the USA” sent the message that what happened in North Carolina is un-American. Just like Big Business, the Boss said there is no place for bigotry in this nation.

What is odd is that this fiasco was entirely predictable and preventable. The corporate world had already slapped Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mike Pence into submission for signing a bogus religious liberty law that was really a license to discriminate against LGBT people.

Mississippi also signed a disgusting anti-LGBT law this week that gives churches, religious charities and privately held businesses permission too refuse services to LGBT people if doing so violates their religious beliefs. It goes so far that it lets individual government employees opt out of serving gays, even though governments must still provide services.

The law prompted singer Bryan Adams to cancel his Mississippi show. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales also said that he refuses to travel to Mississippi next month to commission the USS Portland. The Navy has moved the commissioning to Portland, OR.

Meanwhile, Tennessee has fallen off the deep end. Earlier this month the state passed a bill that made the Bible the state’s official book. This week, a bill was passed that said mental health therapists and counselors could reject gay patients because of their own “sincerely held principles.” This monstrosity, which is strenuously opposed by The American Counseling Association, is on its way to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk.

Sadly, the New South is looking much like the Old South. A Confederacy of dunces, with nosy hypocrites who can’t mind their own business and have offended Big Business, who want to attract the best and the brightest, not the dumb and the dimmest.

Obviously, these vile attacks are a coordinated effort by Religious Right activists who are desperate to stay relevant in an America that has largely left them behind. When the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in Gay Pride month, the LGBT political leadership celebrated. Apparently, many of them haven’t gotten off the floats and cleared the confetti, as these bills seemed to sneak up on them. But the party is over and it’s time to start fighting again. Our foes are fanatics and will stop at nothing to enshrine hate in our laws and defile our constitutions.

The GOP has been powered by an uncomfortable marriage of convenience between religious zealots and corporations. The business leaders would often ignore the extremist’s shenanigans or distract these useful idiots so they would vote in favor of tax cuts for millionaires. Now that the idiots aren’t so useful – and even harmful – the corporate wing is rethinking its place in this coalition.

These state battles are testing the alignment of American politics and could undermine a Republican Party, already traumatized by the rise of Donald Trump. If the crackpots keep alienating the corporate titans, it is conceivable that the money will finally walk away from the madness.