Thursday, March 30, 2017
North Carolina Folds To Money Pressure Rather Than Stand Up For Morality
NC officially rolling back 'bathroom bill,' but LGBTQ groups say plan doesn't go far enough
North Carolina Senate President pro tem Phil Berger, right, and Senate Democratic leader Sen. Dan Blue announce a bill to
replace the controversial HB2 or “bathroom bill” at the North Carolina General Assembly on Thursday, March 30, 2017.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina lawmakers rolled back North Carolina's
"bathroom bill" Thursday in a bid to end the backlash over transgender rights that
has cost the state dearly in business projects, conventions and basketball tournaments.
The compromise plan, announced Wednesday night by the state's Democratic
governor and leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature, was worked out
under mounting pressure from the NCAA, which threatened to take away more
sporting events from the basketball-obsessed state as long as the law, also
known as House Bill 2, remained on the books.
The new measure cleared the House and Senate in a matter of hours and was
sent to Gov. Roy Cooper. He signed it Thursday afternoon.
Among other things, it repeals the best-known section of HB2: a requirement
that transgender people use the public restrooms that correspond to the sex
on their birth certificate.
But the American Civil Liberties Union and gay and transgender activists
complained that the new bill still denies them certain protections from
discrimination, and they demanded nothing less than full repeal.
As a result, it was unclear whether the retreat from the year-old HB2 would
stop the boycotts or satisfy the NCAA. An NCAA spokeswoman didn't
immediately respond to a message seeking reaction.
Republican Rep. Scott Stone, who lives in Charlotte, urged his colleagues to
vote for the new bill. It passed the House 70-48.
"We are impeding the growth in our revenue, in our ability to do more things
for tourism, for teacher pay, while we have this stigma hanging over," Stone
said. "The time has come for us to get out from under the national spotlight
for negative things. You can't go anywhere on this planet without somebody
knowing what is HB2 and having some perception about it."
Conservatives, meanwhile, staunchly defended HB2 and bitterly denounced
the new measure.
"This bill is at best a punt. At worst it is a betrayal of principle," Republican
Sen. Dan Bishop, a primary sponsor of HB2, said on the Senate floor as the
rollback was approved 32-16, with nine of 15 Democrats among the yes votes.
While the new measure eliminates the rule on transgender bathroom use,
it also makes clear that state legislators — not local government or school
officials — are in charge of policy on public restrooms.
HB2 had also restricted local governments' ability to enact nondiscrimination
ordinances on behalf of gay or transgender people. Under the new measure,
local governments can't pass any new protections for workplaces, hotels and
restaurants until December 2020.
That moratorium, according to GOP leaders, would allow time for pending
federal litigation over transgender rights to play out.
"This is a significant compromise from all sides on an issue that has been
discussed and discussed and discussed in North Carolina for a long period
of time," Senate leader Phil Berger said. "It is something that I think satisfies
some people, dissatisfies some people, but I think it's a good thing for North
Gay rights activists blasted the proposal, saying it was not a true repeal.
"It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you vote for this
bill, you are not a friend of the LGBT community," Equality North Carolina
executive director Chris Sgro said. "You are not standing on the right side
of the moral arc of history or with the civil rights community."
James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT Project, said lawmakers "should
be ashamed of this backroom deal." ''This is not a repeal of HB2. Instead,
they're reinforcing the worst aspects of the law," he said in a statement.
Cooper was elected in November on a platform that called for repeal of
HB2, which enacted under the man he defeated, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
The deal came together after the NCAA warned that North Carolina wouldn't
be considered for championship events from 2018 to 2022 unless HB2 was
changed. The sports governing body said it would start making decisions on
host cities this week and announce them in April.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said that he hadn't spoken directly to
the NCAA but that he had been told by business leaders who served as
intermediaries that the bill should prove acceptable to the NCAA.
The NCAA already pulled championship events from the state this year
because of HB2. Also, businesses canceled expansions or moves to North
Carolina, the NBA withdrew its All-Star Game from Charlotte, and entertainers