North Carolina Votes on Repeal of Bathroom Bill

March 30th 2017

Mike Rothschild

The North Carolina state legislature has reached an agreement with the state's governor to repeal most of HB2, the controversial "bathroom bill" that plunged the state into controversy one year ago.

However, opponents of the original bill are also opposing the repeal, calling it a repeal in name only that doesn't help transgender people, and might even be worse than the original.

Leaders of both of the state's legislative bodies said they were "pleased [that] this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy," but LGBT activists quickly dubbed the repeal "HB2.0" and decried it for doing nothing about the bathroom provisions of the previous bill, while simply pushing off the anti-discrimination provisions to local governments.

Critics and members of the LGBT community excoriated HB2 a year ago - which eliminated anti-discrimination protections for LGBT citizens while forbidding local governments from passing non-discrimination ordinances - as discriminatory, a solution in search of a problem, and unenforceable. The most controversial portion of the bill was the provision that transgender people had to use bathrooms and changing facilities that corresponded to the gender on their birth certificate.

The backlash against it also produced a boycott that could cost the state as much as $3.75 billion in lost revenue over the next decade from corporations that pulled investments and artists who canceled concerts.

One of the most vocal opponents of HB2 was the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which pulled high-profile football and basketball championship games from the state, and gave North Carolina a deadline to repeal the bill or face even an even more extensive boycott.

With the NCAA deadline looming, CNN reports that "Republican lawmakers and the Democratic governor struck an agreement late Wednesday night that repeals HB2, but it also retains a critical component of it."

The agreement would put the regulation of multi-occupancy facilities under the state's control, while removing the moratorium on state and local governments in the state passing its own anti-discrimination ordinances - but not until 2020, according to GOP lawmakers who released a statement in the aftermath of it.

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, told CNN that the repeal "doesn't do anything to better the lives of LGBT North Carolinians," and called the agreement a "shell piece of a legislation" that doesn't reduce discrimination, but doubles down on it.

Likewise, a blog post from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned opponents of the bathroom bill not to be fooled by a bill that doesn't actually repeal anything. "Let us be clear – this is no compromise," writes ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio. "This is no repeal. This is HB2.0 and is perhaps more insidious in its targeting of LGBTQ – and particularly of trans and gender non-conforming – people."

The North Carolina Senate voted in favor of the repeal Thursday morning, which sent the measure to the state House. After they presumably pass it, the bill will go to Democratic Governor Roy Cooper for signature.