North Carolina Weighing In on ‘Bathroom Bill’ Repeal

Gender neutral bathroom

On Wednesday, North Carolina lawmakers gathered in the state capital to decide on whether to repeal a controversial piece of legislation called the House Bill 2 (HB2). The bill, more commonly known as the ‘bathroom bill,’ bars transgender people from using the public restrooms of their choice.

LGBT advocates have been pushing for a repeal since enactment because the law is in their view discriminatory. However, their efforts were met with opposition. Earlier this year, GOP leaders said they would repeal it if Charlotte City Council undid its expanded protections for the LGBT community including special housing rights.

North Carolina’s New Governor Poised to Repeal HB2

On Monday, the Democrat-controlled city council withdrew the protections clearing the path to a repeal. It is now up to the state legislature to decide on whether transgender people should use the bathroom of their choice in government facilities and public schools.

The move comes just two weeks after Democrat Roy Cooper narrowly defeated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory in the gubernatorial race. Cooper likely won due to his stance on the pro-LGBT ordinance and willingness to repeal HB2. However, the bathroom bill was just a conservative response to the council’s ordinance.

The bill forces LGBT members to use public restroom that match the sex on their birth certificates. Cooper, who served as state Attorney General for more than a decade, refused to enforce the rules because they’re discriminatory.

House and Senate leaders said earlier this week that they would meet in a special session to repeal the law Wednesday. However, it is unclear how other lawmakers would react. So, far the state legislature has been adamant in maintaining the law despite LGBT pressures.

Republicans Could Oppose a Full Repeal

What’s more Democrats and Republicans are now in close quarters over Cooper’s nomination. Last week, the GOP passed a couple of laws that restricts Cooper’s powers as governor. A spokesperson for Cooper confirmed he would seek the repeal.

On Tuesday, several lawmakers told press they would want a one-day session to settle the issue and “go home” afterward. Yet other lawmakers could come up with amendments to save some parts of the law which could complicate things up. LGBT groups expect conservative lawmakers to oppose a full repeal.

I’m not interested in repealing anything. I think we did the right thing the first time,

said Republican Jeff Collins in a recent interview.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte City Council said that the ordinance would stay in place if state lawmakers had failed to repeal HB2 by Dec. 31. In addition, some provisions of the pro-LGBT ordinance remain intact even after a repeal. So, some lawmakers could cite this issue to left HB2 untouched.

Analysts noted that GOP opposition is weak. If all Democrats voted for the repeal, LGBT would need only 15 House members or 10 Senate members from the Tea Party to scrap the law. Moreover, many lawmakers are now out of town due to Christmas.

The ‘bathroom bill’ affects LGBT people in many other ways. Beside bathroom restrictions, it denies the group extended protections in employment and public accommodations. It also bars local authorities from raising the minimum wage of this group and setting in place nondiscrimination measures that override state law.

Image Source: Wikimedia