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BREAKING: First look at House’s proposed HB2 amendments is not encouraging

Reporter Nick Ochsner of WBTV is reporting that leaders of the North Carolina House have put together a draft bill [1] that would seek to walk back some of the state’s internationally derided LGBT discrimination law known as HB2. A preliminary look at the draft, however, offers little encouragement that anything truly meaningful will ultimately result. Basically, the bill does five things of note:

  1. It repeals the provision in HB2 that removed the right of North Carolinians to sue for employment discrimination under state law. That’s certainly a good thing, but obviously, just returns us to where we were before HB2 was made law.
  2. It adopts federal workplace and public accommodation anti-discrimination standards (which have been interpreted by some to include protections for LGBT people) in place of explicitly spelled out state standards which, among other things, referred to “biological sex.” This might be a step forward — time might tell — but the better, clearer and much more obvious solution is to adopt a state standard that simply and specifically bars discrimination against LGBT people, period. The draft also explicitly preserves the state’s law on requiring “single-sex multiple occupancy bathroom and changing facilities.”
  3. It provides for a new opportunity for North Carolinians to obtain a “certificate of sex reassignment” if they come from states that do not provide a way to update birth certificates. Of course, many transgender people will not be served by and do not want to undergo formal sex reassignment. In other words, Caitlyn Jenner and thousands of other transgender people would presumably still have to use the inappropriate restroom that matches their birth certificate. As many critics have noted, the idea of a sex reassignment registry also conveys some very troubling signals and symbols.
  4. It enhances a variety of criminal penalties for those who would commit sex offenses inĀ  restrooms and locker rooms. Obviously, this is no big deal since the fantasies about trans people committing crimes in restrooms are and always were just that — fantasies.
  5. It establishes a vaguely defined commission to be appointed by the same leaders who brought you HB2 to examine the subject and make recommendations somewhere down the road. There have apparently been discussions on Jones Street of a truly balanced commission, the composition of which would be spelled out in the law and include important progressive members. Unfortunately, the draft bill includes no such language.

That’s it. No repeal of the offensive bathroom law, no clear bar on discrimination against LGBT people and no meaningful promise to do anything better in the future.

The bottom line: This is nothing close to what needs to be done on this vital subject. Let’s hope the NBA and other national powers that be give it a resounding “thumbs down.”