Governor Pat McCrory has called the General Assembly back into special session to consider repeal of House Bill 2
The announcement came after the Charlotte City Council voted Monday morning to repeal its own ordinance granting LGBT protections, including the ability of transgender people to use public restrooms that match their gender identity. The repeal is contingent upon the North Carolina General Assembly fully repealing HB2 in full by December 31.
Charlotte City Council members said Governor-Elect Roy Cooper shepherded the agreement for repeal – and Cooper said in a statement Monday legislative leaders had assured him they would meet to consider repeal once the Charlotte repeal was in place.
“Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB 2 in full,” Cooper said in a statement Monday. “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full. ”
“Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state,” Cooper said.
But McCrory and leaders of the General Assembly’s Republican majority disputed that account Monday – and accused Cooper of playing politics with the deal, holding out on a compromise until after the gubernatorial election.
“Now that the Charlotte ordinance has been repealed, the expectation of privacy in our showers, bathrooms and locker rooms is restored and protected under previous state law,” McCrory Press Secretary Graham Wilson said in the statement.
“Governor McCrory has always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance,” the statement said. “This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state. As promised, Governor McCrory will call a special session.”
N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleaveland) and N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) also criticized Cooper in a joint statement Monday.
“For months, we’ve said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal of HB2,” Moore and Berger said in the prepared statement. “But Roy Cooper is not telling the truth about the legislature committing to call itself into session – we’ve always said that was Gov. McCrory’s decision, and if he calls us back, we will be prepared to act. For Cooper to say otherwise is a dishonest and disingenuous attempt to take credit.”
After negotiations between the Charlotte City Council and legislative leaders fell through during the General Assembly’s last full session, Moore denied there had ever been a firm quid-pro-quo deal on the table and said legislators had considered discussing HB2 if they got an unconditional repeal from the Charlotte council.
The Charlotte ordinance repeal voted on Monday morning states clearly that the city’s ordinance will be repealed only if HB2 is repealed “in its entirety” by the end of December.
The General Assembly met last week in two separate special sessions. The first was to pass legislation related to hurricane and fire disaster relief. In the second, unannounced session it passed controversial legislation stripping Cooper, a Democrat, of governor’s powers given to McCrory, a Republican.
A special session this week would be the fifth this year.
LGBT advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina signaled their support for the repeal deal Monday.
“Governor-elect Cooper has briefed us on a deal he brokered with state lawmakers to reach a complete and total repeal of HB2,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a prepared statement.. “HB2 is precisely why North Carolinians went to the polls and ousted Governor McCrory last month. It’s time to chart a new course guided by the state’s values of dignity and respect, not discrimination and hate — and to ensure non-discrimination protections exist in cities, towns and across the state of North Carolina. It’s been 271 days since the shameful and archaic HB2 was first passed, and the entire country has witnessed its devastating impact. It’s time for state lawmakers to repeal HB2 and begin repairing the harm this bill has done to people and the damage it has done to North Carolina’s reputation and economy.”
N.C. Rep. Chris Sgro (D-Guilford), who is also executive director of Equality N.C., echoed those sentiments in a statement from his group.
“The problem has never been Charlotte,” Sgro said in the statement. “Charlotte’s ordinance was a best practice employed in hundreds of cities across the country.”
““The Charlotte City Council and mayor did the right thing by passing their ordinance — HB2 is wrong,” Sgro said. “Since its passage, the deeply discriminatory HB2 has hurt our economy and people. Now, the General Assembly must fully repeal HB2 so that we can start the necessary talks for protecting LGBTQ people and bring back businesses across the state. We look forward to working with Governor-elect Cooper to win protections community by community and statewide.”
The North Carolina Association of Educators also praised the deal.
“NCAE supports Governor-elect Cooper’s call for an immediate and full repeal of House Bill 2 during a special session,” said NCAE president Mark Jewell in a statement Monday. “This short-sighted discriminatory law set North Carolina back decades and had a negative impact on our state’s reputation. More importantly it had a devastating impact on students who face a greater chance of violence and bullying.”
“As educators we must make sure our schools are welcoming and safe for everyone,” Jewell said in the statement. “Our state’s leaders must ensure that as well. Today we stand with Governor-elect Cooper for a swift and full repeal to protect our students and to start repairing our state’s damaged reputation.”
The ACLU of North Carolina and Lambda Legal, two organizations engaged in a federal lawsuit opposing HB2, issued statements supporting the law’s repeal – but criticizing the repeal of Charlotte’s LGBT protections.
“H.B. 2 was an unprecedented attack on the LGBT community, in particular against transgender people, and we are encouraged that its days are numbered,” said Sarah Gillooly, Policy Director for the ACLU of North Carolina, in the prepared statement. “It is imperative that the General Assembly hold up their end of the deal and repeal H.B. 2 in full without delay. This will be an important step for North Carolinians to move forward, but it never should have come at the cost of protections for LGBT people living in Charlotte.”
“LGBT rights aren’t a bargaining chip. Charlotte shouldn’t have had to repeal its ordinance in exchange for H.B. 2 to be repealed,” said Simone Bell, the Southern Regional Director for Lambda Legal, in the same statement. “LGBT people in North Carolina still need protection from discrimination. The right action is for the North Carolina legislature to pass a statewide comprehensive civil rights bill that includes full protections for LGBT people.”
Durham City Councilman Charlie Reece took to Twitter to criticize Charlotte’s repeal of its LGBT protections as part of the deal.
“While I am not a Charlotte resident, I do have concerns about whether Charlotte’s conditional repeal of their ordinance was done in consultation with members of Charlotte’s transgender community,” Reece said in his statement on Twitter.
“Regardless, I am deeply worried about the impression left by this ‘deal’ that somehow the economic damage caused by HB2 is somehow Charlotte’s fault – or that alleviating the economic damage is more important than protecting Charlotte’s trans community.”
Reece called the politics of the deal “horrible” and said Durham “will stand with our trans brothers and sisters and will stand against discrimination and bigotry in all its forms.”
“I’ve supported a full repeal since HB2 was passed,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford). “It’s unfortunate that it comes from the loss of LGBT protections in place in Charlotte now. But at least we won’t have this stain on our reputation anymore and cities will be able to pass their own protections.”
Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford) agreed.