LGBT advocates celebrated the news Monday that North Carolina legislators were planning to repeal an unpopular law, known as House Bill 2 (HB2), which hurt the state’s reputation and resulted in job losses.
But the development came with a catch: In a deal with state lawmakers, the Charlotte City Council agreed to roll back a city ordinance that expanded protections for LGBT residents. The protections included the right of transgender people to use whichever restroom they prefer, as well as housing rights.
Simone Bell, the regional director of the southern office for Lamda Legal, an LGBT civil rights organization, told Yahoo News that the group was disheartened that the rights of LGBT people in Charlotte were sacrificed in order to get rid of HB2. She described the Charlotte policy as a “good and necessary measure.”
“We definitely appreciate the fact that the Legislature is willing to go back and repeal HB2,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s unfortunate that it had to come at the cost of protections that have already been in place. It seems a bit regressive.”
HB2 was a conservative response to the Charlotte ordinance, which was enacted in February. The intensely controversial “bathroom bill,” HB2, requires people to use the bathrooms in public buildings that correspond with the biological sex indicated on their birth certificates — as opposed to their gender identity. It resulted in a tense standoff between
Cooper, a Democrat, narrowly beat McCrory, a Republican, in the recent gubernatorial race, and tensions are still high. On Monday morning, Cooper announced that legislators would hold a special session to repeal HB2.
There had been conversations between the state legislature and the city of Charlotte for several months, so LGBT advocates were not surprised by the announcement, according to Bell.
“The city council had refused to take it up,” Bell said, referring to HB2. “So, understanding that it was a constantly moving target, we were not surprised.
Again, we are happy for the step to be taken. We’re just disappointed that it comes at the cost of the protections in Charlotte.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, a prominent LGBT-rights nonprofit,
“While it is encouraging that this odious law targeting LGBTQ North Carolinians may finally be overturned, it’s extremely troubling that LGBTQ people in Charlotte and across the Tar Heel state are not explicitly protected from discrimination under the law,” she continued. “Full equality for every person should never be compromised, and state lawmakers must fulfill their constitutional duty to ensure that all North Carolinians are protected equally.”
“House Bill 2 was designed to protect the safety and dignity of our state’s citizens, and it is unconscionable that Governor McCrory and our legislative leaders would push for its repeal, especially during the week of Christmas,” NC Family president John L. Rustin said in the statement. “Moreover, such a move would invite contentious battles in communities all across North Carolina, as proponents of open bathrooms and misguided political correctness seek to bully and pressure local elected officials to pass Charlotte-style social policies.”