North Carolina’s Democrat governor, Roy Cooper, kept a central campaign promise on Thursday. He signed a bill which explicitly repeals the controversial H.B. 2, the “bathroom bill” which caused North Carolina a great deal of hubbub over the past year.
“For over a year now, House Bill 2 has been a dark cloud hanging over our great state,” Cooper declared. “It has stained our reputation. It has discriminated against our people and it has caused great economic harm in many of our communities.”
The governor admitted that the new law is “not a perfect deal and it is not my preferred solution.” He said he would have preferred a law adding protections for LGBT North Carolinians, but admitted that would not be possible with Republicans holding a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature.
LGBT activists opposed the new law, with the executive director of Equality NC, Chris Sgro, saying it will “continue to actively discriminate against the LGBT community.”
Last March, Former Governor Pat McCrory signed the original bill, H.B. 2. That law struck down a Charlotte city ordinance barring discrimination against transgender people, and reserved public non-single stall bathrooms for members of the same biological sex. Unlike the Charlotte ordinance, H.B. 2 actually allowed private establishments to determine their own bathroom policies.
The new law repealed H.B. 2, reserved bathroom regulation to the state as opposed to city ordinances, and placed a moratorium on such ordinances until December 1, 2020.
LGBT groups denounced this compromise law. “At its core, it’s a statewide prohibition on equality,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), told reporters Wednesday. “Just like we did with … McCroroy, we will hold all elected officials accountable — Democrats and Republicans — who target our community by advancing this statewide ban on nondiscrimination protections.”
The moratorium is important, as it allows federal courts to settle the issue of transgender protections. Shortly after McCrory signed the bill, the Obama administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) twisted the meaning of the terms “sex” and “gender” in order to claim H.B. 2 violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act by institutionalizing “discrimination on the basis of sex.” McCrory responded by suing the federal government.
The debate centers on the differing claims of LGBT protections and bathroom privacy. Activists claim that transgender people should have legal protections to use the bathroom corresponding to the opposite sex. Supporters of H.B. 2 argue that such bills enable voyeurs to spy on women and girls by posing as transgender people. Indeed, a “large, burly man” was seen lurking in a women’s restroom — at Disneyland, no less!
This debate needs to be worked out, and not stifled by political correctness.
Despite loud boycotts from many companies and the public denunciations of sports associations like the ACC and NCAA, which pulled championships from the state in protest, the backlash from H.B. 2 has had a very minimal impact on the state’s booming economy. The Associated Press estimated that the bill would cost North Carolina $3.76 billion over the next twelve years — a mere 0.058 percent of a conservative estimate of the state’s GDP growth over that period.
While the companies and sports associations may decide to reverse their boycotts of the state, LGBT groups will not accept victory. BuzzFeed News’ Dominic Holden reported that the ACLU will keep pushing its lawsuit against the state.
When news outlets reported Cooper’s signing of the H.B. 2 repeal bill, the North Carolina ACLU chapter felt it necessary to “fact check” them. “Actually, Gov. Cooper signed law that keeps in place the most harmful parts of #HB2 law. It is not a full repeal. It is not rolled back.”
— ACLU of North Carolina (@ACLU_NC) March 30, 2017
Don’t expect this battle to be over anytime soon.