With business threats to North Carolina over House Bill 2 continuing to grow almost one year former Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law, Democrats in the state offered a vision for undoing the measure with the introduction of new legislation Thursday.
The proposed legislation would not only repeal HB2 — which bars cities from enacting pro-LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and prohibits transgender people from using the restrooms in schools and government buildings consistent with their gender identity — but would also enact LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections in housing, employment, public accommodations, insurance and education.
“It’s a fact that every single day, HB2 has hurt our economy,” Equality NC Director of Transgender Policy Ames Simmons said. “It’s a fact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and especially transgender people, like myself, are at direct risk for discrimination and even violence because of this awful law. Repealing HB2 is just the first step to fixing our state and making sure we are open for business. Our goal should not be mediocracy but excellence. We need fully inclusive, comprehensive non-discrimination protections. Sen. [Phil] Berger and House Speaker [Tim] Moore must immediately repeal HB2, and enact common sense protections.”
The comprehensive legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Pricey Harrison, Deb Butler, Kelly Alexander, Susan Fisher and in the Senate by Sens. Terry Van Duyn, Mike Woodard and Jay Chaudhuri.
“My hometown of Greensboro has suffered enormously from economic losses because of HB2, and the potential economic harm from the NCAA pull-out for the next 6 years is even greater.” Harrison said. “The bill introduced today is a clean repeal of HB2 and provides enhanced statewide non-discrimination protections. This bill reflects North Carolina values, unlike HB2. It is long overdue and we will work our hardest to enact this legislation.”
Lawmakers introduce the legislation on the heels of a letter from the North Carolina Sports Association to the state legislature informing lawmakers that keeping HB2 on the books will result in the loss of all NCAA championship events through 2022 and an estimated loss $250 million in revenue for the state.
The state already lost an estimated $600 million as result of economic boycott over the law. Polling from the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC indicated the law was a key factor in the defeat during North Carolina’s 2016 gubernatorial election of McCrory, who was the only incumbent governor to lose his seat on Election Day. Fifty-seven percent of responders citing the bill as the reason to vote against McCrory, 17 points above any other issue.
“The economic fallout over HB2 continues to mount, and it’s far past time for lawmakers to take action by repealing and replacing this vile, reckless law,” HRC’s Field Director Marty Rouse said. “The only law in the nation that mandates discrimination against transgender people, HB2 is an unprecedented attack on LGBTQ North Carolinians and visitors to the state. By repealing it and replacing it with fully inclusive, commonsense non-discrimination protections, the state can finally begin to repair the incredible harm HB2 has caused.”
In December, the North Carolina held a vote to repeal HB2 as part of a deal with Charlotte in which the city agreed to rescind its LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, which had prompted the state legislature to retaliate last year by passing HB2. But that repeal effort was thwarted after Republicans insisted on including a cooling off period in the bill that would prevent cities for six months from enacting pro-LGBT ordinances and Democrats wouldn’t agree to it.
The Washington Blade has placed a call in with the office of Berger seeking comment on the legislation. The office of Moore couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of this posting.
Gov. Roy Cooper, who campaigned against HB2 and in favor of non-discrimination protections, said during a news conference in Raleigh this week “there is an urgency to get House Bill 2 repealed,” Cooper said.
“If there was ever a time for bipartisanship it was now, a chance to get this stain off our state, a chance to end discrimination and a chance to bring these hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs back to our state,” Cooper said.
- Chris Johnson, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association