Citing overlapping lawsuits and “substantial costs to the state,” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory withdrew a lawsuit against the federal government over House Bill 2 (HB2), the state’s so-called “bathroom bill.” North Carolina will continue to defend the controversial law in separate but similar lawsuits pending in federal courts.
McCrory’s decision came less than a week after two college sports associations pulled their respective championship games from North Carolina venues over opposition to HB2, which requires people to use restrooms and locker rooms based on the gender listed on their birth certificates. Supporters of the law fear state leaders will yield to calls to repeal the bill after a months-long, vitriolic public relations campaign by LGBT activists and the resulting financial toll.
But Graham Wilson, McCrory’s press secretary, insists dropping the state’s lawsuit will make the law easier to defend.
“This action will consolidate the state’s efforts in the courts,” he said. “The remaining cases are well underway in the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina. Gov. McCrory will continue to fight against government overreach.”
Suits and countersuits filled federal court dockets after the North Carolina Assembly passed HB2 in March. In each case the state has sought to defend the law against allegations it violates federal civil rights statutes.
McCrory is in a tight race for reelection, running against Democrat Attorney General Roy Cooper who refused to defend HB2 against the federal lawsuit. In a Sept. 19 poll conducted by Elon University, McCrory had a tight lead in the race – 48.7 percent to 46 percent.
But according to the same poll, 49.5 percent of likely voters oppose HB2, while 39.5 support it.
State Sen. Tamara Barringer, a Republican who voted for HB2, is now calling for its repeal. In an interview with National Public Radio last week, Barringer balked at suggestions her change of heart was politically motivated.
Asked if she would support legislation allowing transgender persons to use their restroom of choice, Barringer said she couldn’t answer because she didn’t think society had a good way to define what that meant.
“But I will tell you that I am listening and open to hear that discussion,” she said, adding two other GOP legislators support her efforts.
Tami Fitzgerald, director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, called Barringer’s comments an act of political desperation.
“Today there are too many politicians willing to abandon their closely held beliefs and principles in the face of adversity,” Fitzgerald said. “People want leaders who will stand up for what is right. How much is it worth to prevent the sexual assault of one little girl in a public bathroom or locker room? That is the question that State Sen. Tamara Barringer ought to ask herself.”
State legislators drafted HB2 after the City of Charlotte passed an ordinance giving transgender persons access to the restrooms and private changing facilities of their choice. In a Sept. 19 joint press conference, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, along with representatives from the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina, rejected a compromise calling on both Charlotte and the state to repeal their respective laws.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bonnie Pritchett writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville, N.C. Used with permission.)