North Carolina's Bathroom Bill Isn't Gone, But The Potential For A More Effective Repeal Offers Hope
Gov. Pat McCrory called a special legislative session, supposedly for the purpose of getting rid of North Carolina's controversial Bathroom Bill, but after a nine-hour session, the bill still stands. Though HB2 may not have been repealed, there's hope — a more effective repeal of the bill could happen in the future.
In March, McCrory, a Republican, signed HB2, which is most famous for blocking transgender people from using public restrooms that don't match the sex listed on their birth certificates. Even worse, it bars local governments from passing their own rules against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill was passed in response to a Charlotte city ordinance prohibiting exactly that sort of identity-based discrimination.
HB2 faced immediate backlash, from individual protestors and organizations alike. Several performers, including Bruce Springsteen, Cirque du Soleil, Demi Lovato, and Nick Jonas, canceled appearances in North Carolina; the NBA and the NCAA relocated games and tournaments. PayPal and Deutsche Bank stopped planned expansions that would have brought in tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to North Carolina, The Washington Post reported. The Obama administration also filed a lawsuit stating that HB2 goes against federal civil rights laws.
North Carolina Republicans reportedly agreed to repeal HB2 if Charlotte rescinded its nondiscrimination ordinance. The Charlotte city council voted to remove the ordinance, but the deal backfired when the special legislative session to repeal the bill ended with HB2 still on the table. Republicans, including Rep. Chuck McGrady, took issue with parts of the nondiscrimination ordinance allegedly not being removed. (A city spokeswoman told the Asheville Citizen-Times that the parts of the ordinance that hadn't been touched were already invalidated by HB2, so the city council had left those parts alone.)
On the other hand, Democrats were unsatisfied with the Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 4, also known as "Repeal HB2." SB4 included a six-month moratorium on local governments enacting nondiscrimination rules, which was amended so the moratorium would last until after the 2017 General Assembly ends, CNN reported. The problem many saw with this is that the moratorium could be repeatedly renewed, leaving an essentially permanent ban on ordinances like Charlotte's nondiscrimination one.
But while the special session ended without HB2 being repealed, the bill could be more effectively repealed in the future — and without the inclusion of the controversial moratorium. If all the Democrats in North Carolina's legislature vote against HB2, only 10 Republicans in the Senate, and 15 Republicans in the House need to side with the Democrats to get the bill repealed, the Citizen-Times reported. And considering the amount of economic and social backlash around HB2, these twenty-odd Republicans could very well be persuaded to vote against the Bathroom Bill. Additionally, both North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger told the Citizen-Times that they "would take up the repeal of HB2."
HB2 had political consequences as well; McCrory, who became well-known for backing the bill, became the first sitting North Carolina governor elected to a four-year term to not be re-elected. McCrory's opponent, Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper, pressed the issue during his successful campaign against McCrory. In fact, McCrory's loss was widely considered to be because of his involvement with HB2, the Citizen-Times reported. When this is considered along with the economic and social backlash to HB2, repealing the bill without the harmful moratorium seems to be a likely possibility in the near future.