Carolina fails to repeal LGBT “bathroom bill”
raleigh, n.c.» Amid deepening acrimony, a supposedly bipartisan deal to kill the North Carolina law known as the “bathroom bill” fell apart Wednesday night, ensuring the likelihood that global corporations and national sports events will continue to stay away from the state.
The law limits protections for LGBT people and was best known for a provision that requires transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates. It was passed this year after Charlotte officials approved a sweeping anti-discrimination ordinance.
The repeal compromise touted by Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory called for Charlotte to do away with its ordinance. In exchange, lawmakers would undo the LGBT law.
But both sides balked: GOP lawmakers cried foul when Charlotte leaders initially left part of the city’s ordinance in place. And when the Senate bill called for a months-long ban on cities passing similar ordinances, Democrats said Republicans were going back on their promise. Cooper said the moratorium essentially doubled down on discrimination.
“The legislature had a chance to do the right thing for North Carolina, and they failed,” Cooper said. “This was our best chance. It cannot be our last chance.”
The troubles in reaching a resolution exposed the intense distrust within the legislature that has only intensified over the years, especially since Republicans took over control of state government in 2013. Cooper’s victory was greeted last week by Republicans acting in a special session to strip away several of the governor’s powers.
“This has been a long and ultimately frustrating day,” Senate leader Phil Berger told reporters after the session ended.
He blamed Cooper and Charlotte leaders for sinking the deal. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue criticized McCrory for calling the special session a few days before Christmas when there didn’t seem to be an agreement.
And House Republicans couldn’t seem to figure out what they wanted. They spent most of the day in closed-door meetings fighting about whether to approve a repeal bill.
People crowded the House and Senate galleries and in the third-floor rotunda all day, keeping watch on the action, or lack thereof. But the mood was much more docile than the angry demonstrations of last week when more than 50 demonstrators were arrested during two days.
Social conservatives were thrilled with the preservation of HB2. North Carolina Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald praised lawmakers “who stood up for what is right and represented the will of voters by stopping the move to cower and cave in to the city of Charlotte and the Human Rights Campaign.”