WATCH LIVE: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper holds a news conference after the state General Assembly passed a repeal of HB2, also known as the "bathroom bill"
Posted by PBS NewsHour on Thursday, March 30, 2017
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper holds a news conference after the state General Assembly passed a repeal of HB2, also known as the “bathroom bill.”
North Carolina legislators on Thursday passed a bill that repeals the state’s controversial HB2, which had required residents to use the restroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate.
The new bill, HB142, passed the Senate with a 70-48 vote.
HB2 — passed last year in response to a local ordinance in Charlotte that allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice — drew fierce criticism across the country for setting restrictions on LGBTQ protections.
Senate leader Phil Berger and House speaker Tim Moore said Wednesday night that they had reached an agreement with Roy Cooper, the state’s Democratic governor, whose election followed contentious debate in the state over HB2. But LGBTQ activists criticized the deal, saying it was a repeal of the law in name only and would not protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the state.
Cooper signed the measure into law on Thursday.
What does the new bill do?
- Repeals HB2. The law, passed in March 2016 and championed by then-Gov. Pat McCrory, came after the city of Charlotte passed an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in February 2016. HB2 required transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex listed on their birth certificate and nullified existing local LGBTQ protections laws.
- Prohibits state agencies, boards, offices, departments, institutions — including the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Community College System — as well as political subdivisions of the state like local boards of education, from regulating access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities.
- States that cities cannot pass regulations on public accommodations or employment practices until the new bill expires in 2020.
Earlier Thursday, the North Carolina legislature debated the repeal of HB2 ‘bathroom bill.’ Both the state Senate and House voted to pass the legislation.
How is this different than HB2?
- While HB142 repeals the stipulation that transgender people must use the facility that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate, it still leaves regulation of “multi-occupancy facilities” — or bathrooms — to the state.
- HB2 banned local jurisdictions from adding to laws around workplace discrimination and use of public facilities, as Charlotte had done with its rules to protect transgender people who wanted to use the bathroom of their choice. HB142 still prevents them from passing nondiscrimination ordinances until December 2020, shortly after the state’s next election for governor
- HB2 also defined the classes of people protected by those discrimination laws; sexual orientation and gender identity was not among those classes. HB142 does not mention the classes of people protected by discrimination laws.
Why LGBTQ groups don’t like the repeal
LGBTQ groups say the bill does not go far enough to remove the discriminatory measures in HB2 and continues to bar local governments from passing LGBTQ protections. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina called it a “backroom deal that uses the rights of LGBT people as a bargaining chip.” It added in a statement: “The way to undo HB2’s profound damage to North Carolina and its people has always been a full, clean repeal, but this proposal would keep anti-LGBT provisions of the law in place and continue to single out and target transgender people.”
This “deal" does NOT repeal #HB2. It’s simply another version of HB2 dressed up in a way desperate lawmakers hope will save state’s economy.
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) March 30, 2017
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement that the bill was a “cynical ploy” to convince the public that the state had addressed criticisms from the LGBTQ community. “Passing this bill would mean that North Carolina continues to be one of the very few states where it’s illegal for cities to protect the rights of their residents. It pushes aside real North Carolinians in favor of political expediency,” she said in the statement.
How did we get here?
Following an outcry over HB2, McCrory in April 2016 signed Executive Order 93, which added employment protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity for employees of the state, and affirmed that the private sector had the right to establish its own policies for bathroom use. State lawmakers updated the law in July to restore workers’ ability to sue for employment discrimination.
Cooper, then the -state’s Attorney General, ran against McCrory for governor while criticizing the law as bad for the state. After winning a narrow victory over McCrory, state lawmakers met in December in a special session to debate HB2. The Republican-led legislature failed to reach a compromise, prompting further protests in the state.
Backlash from businesses
After the law passed, a number of businesses, events and performers boycotted the state. The Associated Press estimates that the law has cost the state more than $3.76 billion in losses, including a planned expansion by PayPal that would have brought an estimated $2.66 billion and 400 jobs to the economy along with canceled operations from Deutsche Bank, CoStar and Adidas.
North Carolina’s High Point Market is the largest furniture industry trade show in the world. But weeks before designers and retailers arrived, the state legislature passed a law on the use of bathrooms and discrimination targeted at LGBT people, sparking outrage and protests. Special correspondent Roben Farzad explores the economic fallout as the backlash and boycotts spread.
Fallout in sports
The N.C.A.A. announced in September it would move seven championship games from North Carolina in the 2016-17 season, and the Atlantic Coast Conference moved its championships out of North Carolina. The N.C.A.A. also said this week that North Carolina could be excluded from hosting championship events through 2022, The New York Times reported.
The nationwide debate
The new developments in North Carolina come amid a larger national debate on bathroom access for transgender people.
- In February, President Donald Trump’s administration revoked Obama-era guidance that said schools should allow trans students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
- Following that decision, the Supreme Court referred Grimm v. Gloucester — a lawsuit filed by student Gavin Grimm against his high school for denying him access to the men’s bathroom — back to a federal appeals court.
Read the full text of HB142 below.