Metro Weekly

North Carolina lawmakers to debate HB 2 repeal on Wednesday

North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh

North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh

North Carolina lawmakers will meet Wednesday for a special session to consider repealing the state’s anti-LGBT HB 2, which has caused the state to lose out on various business and tourism opportunities. The session, called by outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory (R), comes after the Charlotte City Council voted unanimously to rescind its current LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance on Monday.

But that legislation also puts the legislature on a tight deadline. The bill approved by Charlotte City Council members says that the ordinance will be restored if the General Assembly fails to repeal HB 2 in its entirety by Dec. 31. The law, which is currently the subject of several ongoing lawsuits, restricts transgender people’s access to public restrooms and overturns several LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.

Republican lawmakers, who had previously offered to repeal HB 2 if the Council acted first earlier this year, were incensed, and accused Democrats on the Council of playing political games. They also trained their fire on Governor-elect Roy Cooper, accusing him of trying to take credit for the deal by which both laws would be repealed. Cooper had reportedly leaned on his fellow Democrats on the Council over the past weekend, urging them to accept the deal in order to end the various HB 2-inspired boycotts of the state by sports associations, entertainers, and business interests.

“Today Roy Cooper and [Charlotte Mayor] Jennifer Roberts proved what we said was the case all along: their efforts to force men into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor’s race,” Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said in a joint statement. “For months, we’ve said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal [of HB 2].”

In advance of Wednesday’s session, local grassroots groups are trying to mobilize North Carolina residents to show up at the State Capitol in Raleigh in order to keep lawmakers on notice.

“Governor McCrory has not released the official proclamation so we do not know the exact date or time but when it is announced, we will be ready to join our legislators in Raleigh,” the Facebook invitation from the NAACP’s North Carolina chapter says. “Their special session track record does not instill confidence that they will keep their word, so we will monitor the session to ensure that the bill is repealed in full and no other legislation is discussed. This is certainly a victory of the people but this is no reason to praise our legislators. ‘Hate Bill 2’ should have never been passed and it has done massive damage to our state. All praise goes to the people of North Carolina who never gave up the fight and who declared that discrimination has no place in our legislation.”

TurnOUT NC, a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC Action Fund’s political action committees, is also calling people down to Raleigh to “pack the Capitol” beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. HRC President Chad Griffin called on lawmakers to repeal HB 2 and “begin repairing the harm this bill has done to people and the damage it has done to North Carolina’s reputation and economy.”

“The problem has never been Charlotte. Charlotte’s ordinance was a best practice employed in hundred of cities across the county,” Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro said in a statement. “The Charlotte City Council and mayor did the right thing by passing their ordinance — HB2 is wrong. Since its passage, the deeply discriminatory HB 2 has hurt our economy and people. Now, the General Assembly must fully repeal HB 2 so that we can start the necessary talks for protecting LGBTQ people and bring back businesses across the state. We look forward to working with Governor-elect Cooper to win protections community by community and statewide.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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