North Carolina Votes to Repeal 'Bathroom Bill' – But Critics Say LGBT Rights Are Still Threatened
The bill's replacement will prevent local governments from passing LGBT protections.
North Carolina lawmakers have overturned House Bill 2 (HB2), better known as the “bathroom bill.” After passing the state’s house and senate, a new law called HB 142 will go to Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who is expected to sign it.
Passed on March 23, 2016, HB2 mandated people use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates while in schools and other government buildings. This meant transgender people were forbidden from using the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify.
The law also blocked local governments from passing their own anti-discriminatory laws to protect gay and transgender people. In fact, it was the city of Charlotte’s attempt to pass such a law that prompted HB2’s passage.
Republican Senator Phil Berger read the main points of HB142 at a press conference Thursday:
“We guarantee privacy in bathrooms and shower facilities by leaving regulation of multiple-occupancy facilities to the state, returning to the status quo prior to the passage of Charlotte’s ordinance, so that women should not have to share bathrooms with men,” Berger said.
Because bathroom access regulation would remain firmly in control of the state legislature, HB 142 still allows for potential discrimination.
Furthermore, local governments will not be able to pass their own anti-discriminatory laws until December 2020, CNN reports.
Governor Cooper, serving as the state’s attorney general when HB2 was passed, denounced the law as a, “national embarrassment.”
In a press release, Cooper stated his support for the replacement deal.
“I support the House Bill 2 repeal compromise that will be introduced tomorrow,” he said. “It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation.”
That damaged reputation can be quantified – $3.76 billion in lost business, according to the Associated Press – as a result of business boycotts stemming from the law’s passage. The NCAA is avoiding the state as a host for its annual basketball tournament; musicians like Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr have cancelled concerts in protest; and Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, says the company – the largest based in North Carolina – lost out on potential business deals as a result of HB2.
Things may not improve in the Tar Heel state, considering HB142 still leaves the door open for discrimination.
Civil rights groups like the ACLU have called for a full repeal of HB2.