Roy Cooper – Photo: WUNC-TV.
On Thursday, North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill that purports to “repeal” the state’s anti-LGBT HB 2 law while keeping some of its more objectionable and discriminatory provisions in place, sending the measure to the desk of Gov. Roy Cooper (D) for his signature into law.
In response, LGBTQ groups are urging the governor to veto the law, even though Cooper has previously expressed support for the alleged “compromise” reached with House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger late Wednesday night.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which joined with Lambda Legal to sue the state over the HB 2 law, sent a letter to Cooper warning him of the consequences of passing the bill, and arguing that the “compromise” is unacceptable.
“This is not a repeal of HB 2. Instead, they’re reinforcing the worst aspects of the law,” James Esseks, the director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project, said in a statement. “North Carolina lawmakers should be ashamed of this backroom deal that continues to play politics with the lives of LGBT North Carolinians.”
Under the terms of the bill, localities, universities and colleges, government agencies, and other entities would be prohibited from passing or approving any regulation on restrooms unless the General Assembly approves it first. That means that transgender people would be forced to use only those public, multiple occupancy restrooms that match their biological sex at birth, and not those facilities that match their gender identity.
The law also prohibits municipalities in the state from passing any ordinance dealing with employment — including wages or nondiscrimination prohibitions — and access to public accommodations until Dec. 1, 2020. Republican legislators believe that all legal challenges across the country that deal with transgender people’s access to public restrooms will be resolved by that date.
“Lawmakers replaced a bad bill with another bad bill. This fake repeal is an attempt to silence LGBT people,” Simone Bell, Southern regional director at Lambda Legal, said in a statement following the measure’s passage. “We urge the governor to veto this bill and we encourage the NCAA to stay on the right side of history.”
Bell’s reference to the NCAA refers to the fact that Thursday marked the deadline by which North Carolina must repeal HB 2 if it wanted to be considered as a possible host city for any of a number of sporting championships from 2018 to 2022. The NCAA is expected to make a decision on host cities soon, and had previously promised not to award states or cities with anti-LGBTQ laws on the books.
LGBTQ advocates held a press call on Thursday morning to speak out against the “repeal” measure. But they also said that if the bill were to be approved, they would take legal action against the new restrictions just as they did with the original HB 2 bill.
“The governor and General Assembly may be turning their backs on North Carolinians today, but we are not,” Sara Gillooly, policy director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement. “The governor and General Assembly may be turning their backs on LGBT North Carolinians today, but we are not. We will continue to fight in court for transgender people to access the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity and for equal protection for the entire LGBT community in North Carolina.”
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