Thursday, 22 December 2016

North Carolina Bathroom Law Remains Intact, For Now

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On Wednesday, the North Carolina legislature rejected a bid to repeal the state’s controversial transgender bathroom law during a one-day special legislative session. The New York Times reports that the bill failed by a vote of 32-16 after Democrats refused to approve a provision that would ban cities from passing certain pro-LGBT ordinances during what the Republicans called a “cooling off” period.

The transgender bathroom law, known as HB2, was introduced in response to a Charlotte City Council ordinance that allowed transgender people to use a bathroom based on the gender with which they identify. HB2 revoked that ordinance and prevented the introduction of new LGBT ordinances in the state. An executive order signed by Republican Governor Pat McCrory limited the law’s reach to specific restroom and locker facilities in government buildings and in schools, but allowed private businesses to continue to set their own rules for bathrooms and locker rooms.

The backlash against HB2 was swift, with companies such as Deutsche Bank and PayPal Holdings announcing that they would not expand operations within the state. “We take our commitment to building inclusive work environments seriously,” John Cryan, co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank, said.

The National Basketball Association’s 2017 All-Star Game was also moved out of North Carolina. "While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2," the league said in a statement.

Other major companies such as Apple, Google, and American Airlines have spoken out against the law. And performers Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, and Nick Jonas, as well as bands such as Pearl Jam and Boston, canceled concerts in the state.

Still, supporters of HB2 assert that the financial impact of the backlash against the law on the state's economy was vastly overstated to achieve a political agenda, according to Christian Today.

"No basketball game, corporation, or entertainment event is worth even one little girl losing her privacy and dignity to a boy in a locker room or being harmed or scared in a bathroom," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition.

Governor McCrory contends that the entire controversy over the law was manufactured by the liberal media and left-wing activist groups. “I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina,” McCrory said in a statement.

Governor McCrory believes that the law is the reason for his loss to Democratic Governor-Elect Roy Cooper.

Republicans were split on how to deal with the fallout from the law, with business leaders urging its repeal for the sake of the economy, and social conservatives asking Republicans to maintain their stand on the law. Ultimately, Republican legislators agreed to repeal HB2 if the Charlotte City Council repealed the original ordinance that sparked the entire controversy, which it did by a vote of 7 to 2.

Republican leadership then moved forward with an HB2 repeal bill and a provision that would have placed a six-month moratorium on cities from passing ordinances similar to Charlotte's. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger explained that the intention behind the provision was to avoid another ordinance that would “just put us right back where we’ve been for the last nine months.”

But the Democrats refused to pass the repeal bill because of the moratorium, and blamed the Republicans for the repeal fail.

“I’m disappointed for the people of North Carolina — for the jobs that people won’t have. I’m disappointed that we did not remove the stain on our great state,” Governor-elect Roy Cooper said after the vote.

Berger contends the fault lay with Governor-elect Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and Senate Democrats.

"Their action proves they only wanted a repeal in order to force radical social engineering and shared bathrooms across North Carolina, at the expense of our state's families, our reputation and our economy," Berger said.

Governor McCrory asserts that external forces once again interfered in what should have been a bipartisan agreement.

"As promised, I called a special session to reconsider a manufactured political issue that strategically targeted the city of Charlotte and our state by well-funded left-wing interest groups. This was at least the third time that pressure from the left sabotaged bipartisan good faith agreements for political purposes."

McCrory believes that the entire controversy was manufactured to achieve his loss at the polls, citing the Charlotte City Council's "sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election." He asserts it "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."

Meanwhile, for supporters of the law, the repeal failure is something to be celebrated.

The NC Values Coalition said, "We are thankful for the members of the General Assembly who stood up for what is right, and represented the will of voters by stopping the move to cower and cave in to the city of Charlotte and the Human Rights Campaign."

However, it appears likely that HB2 will be revisited in 2017. 

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