UPDATE (Thursday, March 30, 3:30 p.m.): North Carolina Gov Roy Cooper afternoon signed a bill Thursday that partially repeals HB2, and also bars local governments from enacting laws designed to protect LGBTQ people until 2020. The bill cleared the Senate and House on the same day it was introduced.
North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill” might be on its way out, but the bitter partisanship surrounding the legislation shows no sign of fading any time soon, and transgender advocates say they’re getting a raw deal.
On Thursday, lawmakers from the state Senate Committee approved a new bill that would partially repeal HB2, which was passed last March and denied transgender residents access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity. The new bill will go to the Senate, and then the House, and could potentially end up on Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk by the end of the day, the Charlotte Observer reported.
North Carolina was the first state to pass a so-called “bathroom bill” which required that people use the bathroom consistent with their gender at birth. The bill was widely seen as a thinly-veiled attack on transgender people, and triggered copycat bills in 16 states.
House Bill 137, which repeals North Carolina’s bathroom law, was meant to put the wheels in motion for a detente between state lawmakers. But the bill contains two other provisions. The first is that state lawmakers are prohibited from trying to regulate who can and can’t use the bathrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities.
The other provision, which has riled some Democrats and transgender advocates, places a moratorium on local jurisdictions from passing nondiscrimination ordinances protecting LGBTQ residents — like the one in Charlotte that prompted HB2 — until 2020. It also indefinitely bars local governments from passing laws saying trans people can use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
The “alleged repeal compromise” is “not a repeal at all but rather a replacement of the insidious discrimination against LGBTQ people that characterized the original HB2,” said Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT and AIDs Project. “It does all of this under the false premise of protecting safety and privacy in restrooms while doing nothing of the sort.”
In the wake of its bathroom law, North Carolina faced boycotts from companies like Salesforce, PayPal, Pepsi and Whole Foods. A recent analysis by the Associated Press found that North Carolina stood to lose nearly $4 billion over the next 12 years if they do not repeal HB2. A study by the Texas Association of Business estimated that Texas could lose a whopping $8.5 billion per year in business, should lawmakers there approve their own bathroom bill.
Last year, the state even lost a coveted NCAA basketball championship game, a huge blow for a state with perennial basketball powerhouses University of North Carolina and Duke University. As a result, the NCAA became an unexpected key player in the fight for transgender rights.
On Tuesday, the NCAA gave North Carolina an ultimatum: repeal HB2 within 48 hours, or the state won’t be considered eligible for hosting any championship games in the foreseeable future. But whether or not the deal struck by lawmakers will be satisfy the NCAA remains to be seen. The NCAA did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment
Efforts to repeal HB2 in December collapsed amid fierce debate between Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Former Gov. Pat McCrory, who supported HB2, lost his re-election bid to Roy Cooper, a Democrat, who has advocated for the the bill’s repeal.