Defending anti-LGBTQ Legislation, U.S. Lawmaker Compared Himself to Oskar Schindler

Congressional candidate Dan Bishop said he'd protect 'as many as we can' from not being able to discriminate against LGBTQ people through religious exemption clause

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Republican candidate State Sen. Dan Bishop during a news conference in Charlotte, N.C., May 15, 2019.
Republican candidate State Sen. Dan Bishop during a news conference in Charlotte, N.C., May 15, 2019. Credit: Chuck Burton,AP

A North Carolina Republican running for the House of Representatives compared his efforts to override laws against anti-LGBT discrimination to Oscar Schindler saving over a thousand Jews during the Holocaust.

In emails from 2017 obtained by the news site Real Facts NC, Executive State Sen. Dan Bishop engaged with Executive Director of the North Carolina Values Coalition lobbying group Tami Fitzgerald and legal counsel for the Christian nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom Kellie Fiedorek over the partial repeal of the anti-LGBTQ bill that Bishop drafted.

According to HuffPost, Bishop and the right-wing activists were discussing language for a religious exemption clause that would allow businesses to circumvent bans on discriminating against LGBTQ people. It could be applied, the text draft reads, when the state or local government "burdens or threatens to burden an individual's pursuit of the dictates of conscience concerning religion in connection with an act of express creativity."

"My initial response is to say that I would not limit the cause of action to 'an act of expressive creativity,'" Fitzgerald said, "because there are situations that may fall outside such situations."

Fiedorek responded, asking if it would limit those who could discriminate against LGBTQ people to creative professionals, and who they are "attempting to protect."

Bishop answered: "As Oscar Schindler said, as many as we can." Oskar Schindler was a German businessman who saved over a thousand Jews from the Nazis by hiring them in his factories in Poland.    

H.B. 2, also known as the "Bathroom Bill," was passed in March 2016. It forced transgender people in North Carolina to use the restrooms designated for the gender on their birth certificate, and also barred North Carolina's local governments from passing their own anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people. The law was met with fierce backlash, and it was partially repealed in March 2017. The birth certificate requirement was removed, but the rest remained. The religious exemption was not appended in the repeal.

Bishop is currently facing off against Democrat Dan McCready for the U.S. House of Representatives. McCready ran against and narrowly lost to Republican Mark Harris in the November election, but withdrew his concession after evidence emerged that his Republicans aligned with his opponent committed election fraud. Harris announced he would not run in the do-over election, and Bishop took his place.

This is not the first time that the self-described "Pro-life, pro-gun, pro-wall" Bishop has faced public scrutiny. In 2017, he invested in the social media platform Gab, a "free-speech" Twitter alternative popular with white nationalists and alt-right activists, including the Pittsburg Synagogue shooter. The same year, Bishop conflated the Black Lives Matter movement with the alt-right on Twitter. When asked by another Twitter user if he is equating the movement with people who wave the Nazi flag, Bishop responded "Yes. Both violent, racist movements."