North Carolina faced an enormous backlash after enacting HB2, a controversial law that overrides LGBT protections at the local level and prohibits transgender people from using the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. It could have a catastrophic economic impact on the state, and yet the bill's supporters aren't backing down. In fact, on Sunday, state Republicans said that they'll only repeal the bathroom bill if a pro-LGBT ordinance in the city of Charlotte is eliminated first.
State Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, signed a joint letter over the weekend explaining that they only passed HB2 as a reaction to Charlotte's law, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They went on to say that, if local lawmakers in Charlotte get rid of this pro-LGBT ordinance, maybe state lawmakers will get rid of HB2. Governor Pat McCrory echoed the sentiment.
The flaws in this reasoning are headache-inducing to think about and almost too numerous to count. But perhaps the most striking thing about the position these Republicans are taking is how stunningly counter-productive it is. They are quite literally costing their state millions and millions of dollars in lost revenue.
After HB2 went into effect in March 2016, the state was subject to a massive boycott from several powerful industries. All in all, the state has lost at least $230 million and hundreds of jobs, by conservative estimates, as a result of nationwide backlash against the bill. It's also being sued by the Justice Department, which could result in an additional loss of $4.8 billion in federal funding annually.
You might think that this would be enough to compel the state's Republicans to rethink their position on the law, and in fact, two former proponents of the bill now oppose it. But two lawmakers isn't enough to call a special legislative session, pass a new law, and override a veto from the governor, all of which would be necessary to repeal HB2.
It's worth noting that these anti-LGBT lawmakers are fighting a losing battle. The ultimate fate of HB2 notwithstanding, public opinion of LGBT rights has been moving in a steadily progressive direction for years, and upholding a ridiculous bathroom law isn't going to change that trajectory.
HB2 is a moral stain on the state of North Carolina, as it poses a legitimate threat to the safety of trans people in the state. For decent people, that's more than enough reason to want the law repealed. For folks like Berger, Moore, and McCrory, the law's disastrous economic impact should, at the very least, give them pause.