N Carolina’s ‘bath­room bill’ set on fast path to re­peal

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

North Carolina law­mak­ers ap­pear poised to re­peal a con­tro­ver­sial law widely de­rided as the “bath­room bill” be­cause it re­quires trans­gen­der peo­ple to use re­strooms cor­re­spond­ing with the sex on their birth cer­tifi­cate in many pub­lic build­ings. As part of the deal, the Char­lotte City Coun­cil voted Mon­day to re­peal the lo­cal nondis­crim­i­na­tion or­di­nance that first prompted leg­is­la­tors the pass the state law.

Op­po­si­tion to the state law, called HB2, cost the state hun­dreds of jobs, sev­eral high-pro­file sports events and per­haps Gov Pat McCrory a sec­ond term. The re­peal would be a re­mark­able sign of co­op­er­a­tion for Demo­cratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper and the GOP-con­trolled leg­is­la­ture. Just last week, law­mak­ers called a spe­cial ses­sion and stripped Cooper of some of his author­ity when he takes of­fice next month.

The coun­cil’s move is con­tin­gent on North Carolina fully re­peal­ing HB2 by Dec 31. Char­lotte City Coun­cil­woman Claire Green Fal­lon said that when she walked into a break­fast with leg­isla­tive lead­ers Mon­day, she had no idea the in­com­ing gov­er­nor and Repub­li­can lead­ers had struck a deal - ap­par­ently over the week­end - to dump the con­tentious law. McCrory said later Mon­day that he would call leg­is­la­tors back to the Capi­tol on Wed­nes­day to re­peal HB2, which also ex­cludes sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity from an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions. In ad­di­tion, the mea­sure reaf­firms that lo­cal gov­ern­ments can’t re­quire area busi­nesses to pay a min­i­mum wage higher than North Carolina’s statewide min­i­mum, cur­rently set at $7.25 per hour.

Al­though Fal­lon said she was un­aware of what was hap­pen­ing at break­fast, Char­lotte City Coun­cil mem­ber Julie Eiselt said some coun­cil mem­bers re­ceived a call from Cooper on Sun­day night that there would be a spe­cial ses­sion to re­peal HB2. Eiselt said the move by the coun­cil was a leap of faith but coun­cil mem­bers felt that, be­cause Cooper was com­fort­able, they would pro­ceed with the vote. She said she thinks there are enough law­mak­ers in Raleigh who don’t want to see “the con­tin­ued wreck­age that’s hap­pen­ing in our state.”

Send­ing a mes­sage

Repub­li­cans had said the Char­lotte or­di­nance - which en­sured trans­gen­der peo­ple the right to use re­strooms cor­re­spond­ing to their gen­der iden­tity - had to go first be­fore they would con­sider get­ting rid of HB2. Sup­port­ers of HB2 were quick to criticize the like­li­hood that law­mak­ers would vote for its re­peal. “We’re send­ing the mes­sage to our sup­port­ers that law­mak­ers should not now be­tray peo­ple who sup­ported them and com­pro­mise com­mon-sense prin­ci­ples like pri­vacy, dig­nity and free­dom from our cit­i­zens,” said Tami Fitzger­ald, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the North Carolina Val­ues Coali­tion. Re­peal also would break faith with so­cial con­ser­va­tives just weeks af­ter they knocked on thou­sands of doors to back McCrory’s re-elec­tion ef­fort, Fitzger­ald said.

The leg­isla­tive af­fil­i­ate of the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil sent out a state­ment ask­ing sup­port­ers to call McCrory and ask him not to call the spe­cial ses­sion and “stand up to out-of-state bul­lies.” The NCAA, which pulled seven cham­pi­onships out of North Carolina be­cause of HB2, wel­comed the news. “We are en­cour­aged by the cur­rent dis­cus­sions in North Carolina and re­main com­mit­ted to host­ing fu­ture NCAA cham­pi­onships to en­sure they pro­mote an in­clu­sive at­mos­phere for col­lege ath­letes, coaches, ad­min­is­tra­tors and fans,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion said in a state­ment, ad­ding that the re­lo­cated cham­pi­onships for 201617 will re­main in their new ci­ties.

And LGBT ad­vo­cates held out hope that the Gen­eral Assem­bly would fol­low through, al­though they also said pro­tec­tion from dis­crim­i­na­tion tran­scends pol­i­tics. “LGBT rights aren’t a bar­gain­ing chip. Char­lotte shouldn’t have had to re­peal its or­di­nance in ex­change for HB2 to be re­pealed,” Si­mone Bell, the South­ern Re­gional Di­rec­tor for Lambda Le­gal, said in a state­ment. “LGBT peo­ple in North Carolina still need pro­tec­tion from dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

In March, a full re­peal of the law ap­peared highly un­likely. At the time, Repub­li­can leg­isla­tive lead­ers didn’t ad­dress McCrory’s re­quest to re­store the right to sue in state court for em­ploy­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion, which was one of the bill’s orig­i­nal tenets. But they praised him for reaf­firm­ing bath­room pro­vi­sions in the law. It was in Septem­ber that McCrory and GOP leg­isla­tive lead­ers of­fered a deal to Char­lotte say­ing they would con­sider re­scind­ing HB2 if city lead­ers re­pealed the or­di­nance. Char­lotte Mayor Jen­nifer Roberts ba­si­cally told McCrory and the law­mak­ers they would have to move first. — AP

RALEIGH. North Carolina: In this Mon­day, April 25, 2016, file photo, pro­test­ers head into the Leg­isla­tive build­ing for a sit-in against House Bill 2. — AP

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