Late last night, North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and GOP leaders in the legislature agreed in theory to a deal that would essentially rewind state law to what it was like before the disastrous, anti-LGBT HB 2 bill was enacted.
But that’s hardly good news for people hoping to end LGBT discrimination once and for all.
As you may recall, HB 2 eliminated protections for LGBT people who were discriminated against by the government. It also forced transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding with the gender they were assigned at birth.
The reason it was enacted at all was because the city of Charlotte passed a non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT people, and the GOP dominated legislature wanted to put a stop to that. Republican Governor Pat McCrory was happy to oblige at the time.
The backlash came swiftly. PayPal said it would no longer expand in the state. The NBA All-Star game was pulled from Charlotte. The NCAA said the state would not host 2017 March Madness games. Tourism suffered. And it was only going to get worse if HB 2 wasn’t repealed by tomorrow, with the NCAA making a decision by then about hosting future championship games in the state.
The Associated Press also calculated that HB 2, barring repeal, would ultimately cost the state $3.7 billion. That’s a hell of a lot of money wasted by Christian bigots just to make sure trans people can’t pee in the right bathrooms.
For all those reasons, a “compromise” was reached last night to repeal HB 2. Which sounds like a relief… until you realize what the new deal would include:
According to a statement from [Senate leader Phil] Berger and Moore, the bill would:
▪ Repeal HB2.
▪ Leave bathroom regulation to the state, essentially returning to the status quo before Charlotte passed a 2016 ordinance allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their gender identity.
▪ Enact a moratorium on similar ordinances until Dec. 1, 2020.
In other words, North Carolina would go back to a time when LGBT didn’t have anti-discrimination protection, and cities like Charlotte would be unable to do anything about it even if they wanted to. (That last bullet point means no change could occur until after the next gubernatorial election.)
That’s why LGBT rights groups are saying this option isn’t good enough:
Rep. Cecil Brockman, one of two openly LGBT lawmakers, slammed the door in frustration when leaving a caucus meeting. The Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC issued a news release as negotiations continued.
“The rumored HB2 ‘deal’ does nothing more than double-down on discrimination and would ensure North Carolina remains the worst state in the nation for LGBTQ people,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The consequences of this hateful law will only continue without full repeal of HB2. Sellouts cave under pressure. Leaders fight for what’s right.”
If the guiding principle for liberals was always about making sure LGBT people had equal rights under the law, there’s absolutely no reason to sign off on this. Not only would such discrimination remain legal, there would be no way to remedy the situation, even in islands of sanity like Charlotte.
Democrats — including Roy Cooper — should demand so much more. Republicans deserve all the blame for the economic loss in the state as a result of their bigoted bill, and a repeal that still allows them to treat LGBT people like second class citizens is no compromise at all.
If this is the best Governor Cooper can do, Democrats need to start looking elsewhere for real leadership.
(Image via Shutterstock)