Deal to re­peal ‘bath­room bill’ angers GOP in North Carolina

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARD­SON

North Carolina Repub­li­cans have a deal for the city of Char­lotte: We’ll pull our bath­room law if you pull yours.

Law­mak­ers are pre­pared to re­peal HB2, the leg­is­la­tion reg­u­lat­ing in­ti­mate public fa­cil­i­ties on the ba­sis of bi­o­log­i­cal sex, after the Char­lotte City Coun­cil on Mon­day got rid of its or­di­nance re­quir­ing that ac­cess to re­strooms and locker rooms be de­ter­mined based on a per­son’s gen­der iden­tity.

“The City Coun­cil has taken care of their side of the equa­tion, and we need to take care of ours,” Repub­li­can Sen. Jeff Tarte told The Char­lotte Ob­server.

The gen­eral as­sem­bly will hold an­other spe­cial ses­sion Wed­nes­day to con­sider scrap­ping the law, which prompted a back­lash from gay and trans­gen­der ac­tivists and their cor­po­rate al­lies in­clud­ing PayPal and the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, both of which cur­tailed busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties in the state in re­sponse to the law.

But the an­tic­i­pated deal is leav­ing some con­ser­va­tives, who worked to re-elect

Repub­li­can su­per­ma­jori­ties in both cham­bers, feel­ing be­trayed by their rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Tami Fitzgerald, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the NC Val­ues Coali­tion, said there will be noth­ing to stop ci­ties like Char­lotte from per­mit­ting op­po­site-sex re­stroom and locker room ac­cess if HB2 is re­pealed.

“I don’t un­der­stand why Repub­li­cans would fall for such a ploy,” Ms. Fitzgerald said. “I think it’s a dis­grace and, frankly, a be­trayal of the Repub­li­can vot­ers who just re-elected that su­per­ma­jor­ity back to the gen­eral as­sem­bly in North Carolina.”

The at­tempted com­pro­mise stems form a prom­ise out­go­ing Gov. Pat McCrory and lead­ing Repub­li­can law­mak­ers made sev­eral months ago to con­sider re­peal­ing HB2 if the Char­lotte City Coun­cil got rid of the or­di­nance that prompted the state law in the first place — a deal that was re­jected at the time.

Mr. McCrory, who lost the gu­ber­na­to­rial race to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Roy Cooper by about 10,000 votes, said Char­lotte’s sud­den about-face re­veals the po­lit­i­cal na­ture of the con­tro­versy over HB2.

“This sud­den re­ver­sal with lit­tle no­tice after the gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion has ended sadly proves this en­tire is­sue, orig­i­nated by the po­lit­i­cal left, was all about pol­i­tics, at the ex­pense of Char­lotte and the en­tire state of North Carolina,” Mr. McCrory said in a video mes­sage. “But as I promised months ago, if the Char­lotte or­di­nance was re­pealed, I would call our Gen­eral As­sem­bly into a spe­cial ses­sion to re­con­sider ex­ist­ing state leg­is­la­tion passed ear­lier this year.”

The LGBT move­ment has not wa­vered from its com­mit­ment to en­act­ing lo­cal anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion mea­sures after HB2 is re­pealed.

“HB2 is pre­cisely why North Carolini­ans went to the polls and ousted Gov­er­nor McCrory last month,” Hu­man Rights Cam­paign Pres­i­dent Chad Grif­fin said in a state­ment. “It’s time to chart a new course guided by the state’s val­ues of dig­nity and re­spect, not dis­crim­i­na­tion and hate — and to en­sure non-dis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions ex­ist in ci­ties, towns and across the state of North Carolina.”

The Char­lotte City Coun­cil reaf­firmed its com­mit­ment to trans­gen­der rights after re­peal­ing the or­di­nance.

“The City of Char­lotte is deeply ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing the rights of all peo­ple from dis­crim­i­na­tion and, with House Bill 2 re­pealed, will be able to pur­sue that pri­or­ity for our com­mu­nity,” the coun­cil said in a state­ment Mon­day.

Joseph Back­holm, pres­i­dent of the Fam­ily Pol­icy In­sti­tute of Wash­ing­ton, said Repub­li­cans would be naive to as­sume sim­i­lar or­di­nances will not be passed if HB2 is re­pealed.

“I think this is very fool­hardy by the leg­is­la­ture, be­cause I think there’s about a 100 per­cent chance that an­other mu­nic­i­pal­ity is go­ing to do ex­actly what Char­lotte has done, and then the state leg­is­la­ture is go­ing to have to again re­con­sider this is­sue,” Mr. Back­holm said. “There’s no chance that the left stands pat on this.”

Repub­li­cans hold su­per­ma­jori­ties in both leg­isla­tive cham­bers, enough to over­ride a veto and re-en­act HB2 if Char­lotte re­neges on the com­pro­mise. But Ms. Fitzgerald said some Repub­li­cans are weary of pick­ing an­other fight with the LGBT move­ment and its pow­er­ful cor­po­rate al­lies.

“There have al­ready been sev­eral Repub­li­cans who have ca­pit­u­lated on House Bill 2 be­cause they were in tough re-elec­tion bat­tles,” Ms. Fitzgerald said. “The ques­tion is whether all of the Repub­li­cans would vote to over­ride that veto.”

Al­though the LGBT move­ment has painted Mr. McCrory’s de­feat as a ref­er­en­dum on HB2, Ms. Fitzgerald said, Repub­li­cans should not ca­pit­u­late to pro­gres­sives in the trans­gen­der bath­room de­bate. In fact, she said, the gov­er­nor’s pop­u­lar­ity reached its zenith only after he stood up for HB2 this year.

“He al­ways had a neg­a­tive pop­u­lar­ity rating go­ing three years back un­til the sum­mer of this year, when con­ser­va­tive vot­ers sud­denly re­al­ized that he was stand­ing strong,” she said. “And that’s the first time his pop­u­lar­ity rating was in the pos­i­tive col­umn.”

Mr. Back­holm said Repub­li­cans in North Carolina should take a cue from Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump.

“I think it’ll be dis­ap­point­ing if a Repub­li­can leg­is­la­ture ends up re­peal­ing it, be­cause they’re just go­ing to prove that if the bul­lies get their way if they scream loud enough and lie loud enough,” he said.

“Es­pe­cially in an elec­toral year like 2016, I think the public is hun­gry for some courage, even if it’s brash. I think that’s what you saw at the na­tional level. They’re hun­gry for some peo­ple who aren’t politi­cians as usual, and all of this seems to be is an in­di­ca­tion that North Carolina is op­er­at­ing as politi­cians al­ways have,” he said.

THE NEWS & OB­SERVER VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

LOCKED OUT: Sup­port­ers of HB2 are feel­ing be­trayed by North Carolina Repub­li­cans who are pre­pared to re­peal the “bath­room bill.”

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