Members of the black community shout out their opposition to North Carolina's HB2 "bathroom law" during a demonstration in...

Controversial NC law restricting LGBT protections left largely unchanged

A minor change to the controversial North Carolina state law that limits protections for LGBT workers was approved by the state legislature Friday night.

Under the updated law, workers can sue over employment discrimination, though the restored legal path comes with a statute of limitations of just one year, compared with the three years guaranteed before the original law’s passage.

Some opponents of the law, called HB2, supported the change even though it “did not address discrimination against the LGBT community that they contend is at the center of the law,” the Charlotte Observer reported.

The law, chiefly known for a clause that blocks transgender people from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity, passed in a special one-day legislative session in March. It also barred cities from creating new legislation that includes protections for LGBT workers. Those provisions were left intact.

“While this is important, it doesn’t go nearly far enough,” Rep. Chris Sgro, a Democrat and one of the leaders of efforts to repeal HB2, said of Friday’s change. Another representative called it “the lowest of the low-hanging fruit.”

On Friday, the North Carolina House also voted in favor of a bill supported by the governor that would move $500,000 from disaster relief funding to help defend HB2 in court. This bill, along with the change to HB2, awaits Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature. He is expected to approve both, according to the Observer.

In early May, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit demanding that North Carolina back away from the law.

Addressing transgender people, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “We see you. We stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.” Hours later, McCrory counter-sued, citing “baseless and blatant overreach” by the department.

In response, several artists, including Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr, canceled scheduled performances in the state. Companies have canceled plans to expand business in the state over the issue. Tourism has also taken a hit, the New York Times reported.

Major professional organizations have expressed frustration with the updated law. The NBA said in a statement on Thursday that it was not satisfied with the proposed changes, raising further uncertainty about the status of the 2017 All-Star game scheduled for Charlotte.

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