News (USA)

North Carolina Democrats introduce HB2 repeal bills

North Carolina Democrats introduce HB2 repeal bills
FILE - In a Dec. 21, 2016 file photo, opponents of House Bill 2 hold signs outside the House chambers gallery as the North Carolina General Assembly convenes for a special session at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C. Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford says Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, that the conference is likely to move its football championship game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, again if a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people is not repealed or adjusted. Photo: (Chris Seward/The News & Observer via AP, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — More legislation has been proposed to repeal the North Carolina law known as House Bill 2, but the measures would also create LGBT anti-discrimination protections statewide.

Several Democratic lawmakers and representatives of gay rights groups held a news conference to announce the bills filed Thursday. They also urged Republican legislative leaders to act quickly on repeal or the state will face more economic losses. Worries have increased by some that HB2 will prevent the state from being awarded NCAA championship events for the next five years.

The GOP-controlled General Assembly last year approved House Bill 2, prohibiting broad anti-discrimination ordinances covering sexual orientation or gender identity. It also directs transgender people to use public bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates.

Speakers supporting the new bill say it’s long past due for gays, lesbians and bisexual and transgender people to have the same formal protections from bias in housing, lending, employment and public accommodations such as restrooms.

North Carolina needs to show the country that it is a “welcoming and tolerant state,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, a primary sponsor of the House bill. “We will do our hardest to enact this legislation.”

The odds for the legislation to get a hearing — let alone votes — appear long. Similar legislation was filed last year. Republican lawmakers say the time for a full HB2 repeal may be over after a deal reached in December with now-Gov. Roy Cooper fell apart during a special session.

A separate bill filed Thursday by Rep. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford, repeals HB2 and adds statewide LGBT protections but also increases punishments for people who commit sex-related crimes in restrooms and locker rooms. The proposed punishments could address arguments by Republicans that sexual predators could more easily enter bathrooms with access rules based on gender identity.

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