After months of angry debate over North Carolina’s restroom law, state lawmakers are debating whether to repeal it.
North Carolina Republicans passed House Bill 2 (HB2) in response to a Charlotte ordinance that forced city businesses to open their restrooms based on gender identity. Signed in March, HB2 superseded the ordinance before it took effect. The state law requires persons to use restrooms and locker rooms according to the sex listed on their birth certificates and applies to government buildings, schools and universities. It blocks municipalities, such as Charlotte, from adopting their own restroom rules.
The Charlotte City Council voted Dec. 19 to repeal a portion of its original ordinance with the goal of taking down HB2 with it. Gov.-elect Roy Cooper, a Democrat, announced within minutes of the vote that the North Carolina General Assembly would meet to repeal HB2.
“Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB2 in full,” Cooper said in a statement. “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full. Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”
A session was called for Wednesday, but some lawmakers are saying they will not follow the alleged plan to repeal HB 2.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said in a press release, “I support HB 2 and do not favor its repeal.”
Vitriol over HB2 emboldened several businesses to boycott North Carolina, costing the economy potential revenue streams and jobs. Liberal states such as New York and Washington issued travel bans to the Tar Heel state and musicians such as Bruce Springsteen canceled scheduled concerts.
The sports world weighed in as well, with the NBA moving its 2017 All-Star weekend from Charlotte to New Orleans and the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference both canceling championship contests at North Carolina venues.
On the campaign trail, Cooper frequently attacked Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, for signing HB2 and sticking by it amid constant pressure.
North Carolina voters were almost evenly split between the two candidates. The election was so close McCrory called for a recount and didn’t formally concede defeat until nearly a month after Election Day.
The Charlotte City Council said it repealed its ordinance based on the agreement statewide lawmakers will repeal HB2. McCrory said the agreement proved Democrats never really cared about protecting transgender persons but merely wanted to get him out of the governor’s mansion.
“This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proved this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state,” said Graham Wilson, a McCrory spokesman.
McCrory often said HB2 was necessary to protect people from Charlotte’s problematic ordinance, which would have allowed men to enter women’s restrooms and locker rooms legally.
According to The Charlotte Observer, McCrory attempted months ago to negotiate a deal similar to what the city council agreed on Monday. But Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, and city council members rejected it.
Now that the city ordinance is gone, the previous expectations of privacy in showers, restrooms, and locker rooms will continue to be protected under existing state law, Wilson noted.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Evan Wilt writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission. BR Content Editor Seth Brown contributed to this story.)