Sunday, March 26, 2017
When You Fight Bad Things, You Have To Take Some Heat.
One year later, the law that shattered an entire state’s politics is still here. And it’s not going away soon.
RALEIGH, N.C. — On a 200-mile drive from the state capital to Kings Mountain, a tiny town where the Charlotte suburbs fade into the Appalachian foothills, state Rep. Chuck McGrady told House Speaker Tim Moore, one of the most powerful Republicans in North Carolina, not to do it.
“We shouldn’t go down this road,” McGrady told Moore just over a year ago, as he gave his fellow legislator a lift home from a session while Moore’s car was in the shop. The warning came days after Charlotte’s City Council passed an ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of their choosing. At the time, Moore was “trying to figure out what they might do” in response, McGrady said. “I told him, ‘Let’s take our time with this.’”
But Moore, who declined to be interviewed for this story, didn’t take McGrady’s advice. In a one-day special session last March, the Republican-controlled supermajority passed House Bill 2, effectively banning legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and requiring North Carolinians to use the bathroom assigned by their birth certificate in public places.
The backlash was swift, redefining North Carolina in the year that has elapsed since the bill’s passage, as critics and lawsuits have taken aim at what opponents view as an overly broad law that mandates discrimination against the LGBT community. The NBA relocated its All-Star game, while a long list of big businesses, like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Dow Chemical, demanded a repeal. Forbes estimated the state had suffered $630 million in losses as of last fall. And the repercussions show little signs of easing after a year marred by boycotts, partisan rancor and finger-pointing—nearly two-thirds of North Carolina voters say they would rather eliminate HB2’s negative economic impact over enforcing the law.