A full repeal of House Bill 2 is inevitable, according to a panel of experts who spoke Tuesday about the future of the sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“I think full repeal is the only thing that’s going to fix the problem,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina and a former member of the House of Representatives. “The public-business outcry is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of long-term impact.”
Fellow panel members Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg) and Rick Glazier, executive director of the North Carolina Justice Center and former member of the House of Representatives, both said they were optimistic for legislators to move quickly this session on a repeal. The Justice Center is the parent organization to NC Policy Watch.
Glazier added that once HB2 is repealed, efforts will shift to how to move the state forward as a whole when it comes to discrimination practices involving the LGBTQ community. The legislation, he said, will become another example of a traumatic obstacle for civil rights.
The panel also discussed similar bills that have been put forward in other states, particularly in Texas and Virginia. Sgro predicted that businesses would be very proactive in standing against similar legislation and the potential for backlash would outweigh any perceived good that could come of such discrimination statutes.
“The writing is on the wall in terms of long term,” he said.
There has been some speculation that if more states stand together in similar legislation, it will be harder for businesses to boycott, but Sgro and Jackson said they don’t foresee that logic gaining steam.
“I think it’s much more likely those pieces of legislation bite the dust,” Jackson said, adding that in doing so, it would send a clear message that North Carolina stands alone with HB2.
A second panel discussed litigation stemming from HB2 and transgender rights and other privacy options outside of creating anti-discrimination laws.
In Carcaño, the ACLU is expected to argue an appeal before the Fourth Circuit in May. The other case is on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides another case involving a transgender student’s rights, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.
There is some concern that President-elect Donald Trump’s administration could affect the U.S. v. North Carolina case or even rescind the lawsuit altogether if Jeff Sessions is confirmed as the U.S. Attorney General, but Brook said he did not expect any impact in the ACLU’s ability to proceed in Carcaño.
If HB2 is repealed in full, Brook said, the ACLU would move out of litigation.