N.C. de­cides to roll back part of its bath­room bill

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary D. Robert­son and Emery P. Dalesio

North Carolina RALEIGH, N.C. — rolled back its “bath­room bill” Thurs­day in a bid to end the year­long back­lash over trans­gen­der rights that has cost the state dearly in busi­ness projects, con­ven­tions and bas­ket­ball tour­na­ments.

The com­pro­mise plan, an­nounced Wed­nes­day night by the Demo­cratic gover­nor and lead­ers of the Re­pub­li­can-con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture, was worked out un­der mount­ing pres­sure from the NCAA, which threat­ened to take away more sport­ing events from the bas­ket­ball-ob­sessed state as long as the law, also known as House Bill 2, re­mained on the books.

The new mea­sure cleared the House and Se­nate and was signed by Gov. Roy Cooper in a mat­ter of hours.

Among other things, it re­peals the best-known sec­tion of HB2: a re­quire­ment that trans­gen­der peo­ple use the pub­lic re­strooms that cor­re­spond to the sex on their birth cer­tifi­cate.

“For over a year now, House Bill 2 has been a dark cloud hang­ing over our great state,” the gover­nor said in an­nounc­ing the signing. “It has stained our rep­u­ta­tion, it has dis­crim­i­nated against our peo­ple, and it has caused great eco­nomic harm in many of our com­mu­ni­ties.”

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and gay rights ac­tivists com­plained that the new law still de­nies gay and trans­gen­der peo­ple cer­tain pro­tec­tions from dis­crim­i­na­tion, and they de­manded noth­ing less than full re­peal.

As a re­sult, it was un­clear whether the re­treat from HB2 would stop the boy­cotts or sat­isfy the NCAA.

Re­pub­li­can Rep. Scott Stone, who lives in Charlotte, urged his col­leagues to vote for the new bill. It passed the House 70-48.

“We are im­ped­ing the growth in our rev­enues, in our abil­i­ties to do more things for tourism, for teacher pay ... while we have this stigma hang­ing over us,” Stone said. “The time has come for us to get out from un­der the na­tional spot­light for neg­a­tive things.”

Con­ser­va­tives, mean­while, staunchly de­fended HB2 and con­demned the new mea­sure.

“This bill is at best a punt. At worst it is a be­trayal of prin­ci­ple,” Re­pub­li­can Sen. Dan Bishop, a pri­mary spon­sor of HB2, said on the Se­nate floor as the roll­back was ap­proved 32-16 , with nine of 15 Democrats among the yes votes.

While the new mea­sure elim­i­nates the rule on trans­gen­der bath­room use, it also makes clear that state leg­is­la­tors — not lo­cal gov­ern­ment or school of­fi­cials — are in charge of pol­icy on pub­lic re­strooms.

HB2 had in­val­i­dated any lo­cal or­di­nances that pro­tect gay or trans­gen­der peo­ple from dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place or in pub­lic ac­com­mo­da­tions. Un­der the new law, lo­cal gov­ern­ments can’t en­act any new such pro­tec­tions un­til De­cem­ber 2020.

Gay rights ac­tivists blasted the pro­posal, say­ing it was not a true re­peal.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if you are a Demo­crat or a Re­pub­li­can, if you vote for this bill, you are not a friend of the LGBT com­mu­nity,” Equal­ity North Carolina ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Chris Sgro said. “You are not stand­ing on the right side of the moral arc of his­tory or with the civil rights com­mu­nity.”


House Demo­cratic leader Rep. Dar­ren Jack­son (left), Speaker of the House Rep. Tim Moore (top) and Rep. David Lewis con­fer be­fore a vote to re­peal HB 2 in the Gen­eral As­sem­bly on Thurs­day.

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