North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday called for a special session to consider repealing House Bill 2 (HB2), after the Charlotte City Council voted unanimously to rescind their expanded nondiscrimination ordinance.
After months of the majority of the Charlotte City Council refusing to compromise on its ordinance offering protections to the LGBTQ community, including the controversial transgender bathroom and locker room protections, they decided Monday to do just that, with a 10-0 vote.
HB2 nullified all nondiscrimination ordinances passed by cities and municipalities in the state, as well as requiring trans individuals to use the bathrooms and locker rooms matching the gender on their birth certificates when in government-owned buildings. Private businesses are left to make their own policies regarding the issue.
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HB2 also capped the state’s minimum wage and prevented people from suing for employment discrimination in state court, which was later amended.
The Charlotte expanded nondiscrimination ordinance offered protections for the LGBTQ community against discrimination in public accommodations, passenger vehicles for hire and by private businesses. It also allowed trans citizens to use the bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. This prompted the state to pass HB2, which has since cost the state millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs due to boycotts.
The Charlotte City Council voted against a repeal in May. After that compromise attempt failed, both Gov. McCrory and House Speaker Tim Moore both admitted a full repeal of HB2 was never on the table.
“Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB 2 in full,” Governor-elect Roy Cooper said in a statement released shortly after Charlotte’s vote to rescind their ordinance. “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full.
“Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”
Councilmember Julie Eiselt told The Charlotte Observer that Cooper called her personally Sunday night to encourage her to vote for repeal.
She says he told her, “If we cleaned up our books that the General Assembly was motivated to call a special session to repeal (the law) and we felt this was our best opportunity.”
The city included a clause saying its nondiscrimination ordinance will be enacted again if HB2 isn’t repealed by Dec. 31.
Mayor Roberts said the vote “should in no way be viewed as a compromise of our principles or commitment to non-discrimination.”
Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles said the city council would try to pass some LGBTQ protections in the coming year without expounding upon what those might be, but one can assume they will not include protections for trans accommodations. The North Carolina General Assembly remains under Republican control and to do so would almost certainly trigger another fight.
Lawsuits challenging HB2 will likely be dropped or be declared moot by courts should the law in fact me repealed.
“Gov. Pat McCrory has always advocated a repeal of the over-reaching Charlotte ordinance, but those efforts were always blocked by Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists,” McCrory spokesman Graham Wilson said. “This sudden reversal, with little notice after the gubernatorial election, sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state.”
“Governor-elect Cooper has briefed us on a deal he brokered with state lawmakers to reach a complete and total repeal of HB2,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “HB2 is precisely why North Carolinians went to the polls and ousted Governor McCrory last month. It’s time to chart a new course guided by the state’s values of dignity and respect, not discrimination and hate — and to ensure non-discrimination protections exist in cities, towns and across the state of North Carolina. It’s been 271 days since the shameful and archaic HB2 was first passed, and the entire country has witnessed its devastating impact. It’s time for state lawmakers to repeal HB2 and begin repairing the harm this bill has done to people and the damage it has done to North Carolina’s reputation and economy.”
HRC had previously said there should be no compromise. So too did Equality North Carolina, whose executive director, Chris Sgro, mirrored Griffin’s statements.
“We look forward to working with Governor-elect Cooper to win protections community by community and statewide,” he said, calling HB2 “wrong.”