Lawmakers in North Carolina failed to repeal the state’s controversial—and costly—House Bill 2, which was coined as the “bathroom bill,” during a daylong special session on Wednesday, NBC News reports.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 22, 2016
HB2 was signed by outgoing Republican Governor Pat McCrory in March. The infamous “bathroom bill” bans people in the state from using public bathrooms that don’t correspond to their biological sex. This means someone who has fully transitioned to being a woman would still need to use the men’s bathroom, for example.
As a result of HB2’s enactment in March, North Carolina lost tens of millions of dollars in business, according to the BBC. The NBA moved its all-star game out of North Carolina, while the NCAA pulled tournament games out of the state. Bruce Springsteen, Maroon 5, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, Pearl Jam and Cirque du Soleil all canceled their North Carolina shows in response to HB2. PayPal, among other businesses, backed out of a planned operations center in Charlotte, costing North Carolina over 400 jobs.
The bill is also seen as a major reason Gov. McCrory was ousted from his post after the November elections.
A surprise move by Charlotte City Council on could have reversed the unfortunate legislation. According to the Charlotte Observer, the City Council rescinded the ordinance which originally prompted HB2. The ordinance, signed into law in February, expanded LGBT protections—causing Republicans to retaliate with a law that would force people to use the bathroom matching their biological sex at birth. Incoming Democratic Governor-Elect Roy Cooper helped to broker a deal this week where Charlotte would repeal that ordinance in exchange for a state-wide repeal of the “Bathroom Bill”
“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 HB2 in full,” said Cooper in a statement. “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full.”
“For months, we’ve said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal of HB2,” said Berger and Moore in a joint statement, accoridng to BBC.
However, the deal to repeal the state-wide “bathroom bill” fell through. Lawmakers spent hours debating HB2 behind closed doors. CNN reported that Senate Bill 4, otherwise known as “Repeal HB2,” was filed by Republican state leadership, but contained language that broke the bipartisan deal Cooper lobbied for. “Repeal HB2” would have imposed a renewable six-month ban on any local government that wanted to enact LGBT protections in public accommodations or bathrooms. This could have made it impossible for any North Carolina cities to pass anti-discrimination laws locally.
"It's going to continue discrimination," Rep. Chris Sgro, an openly gay legislator, said to CNN. "We had better see a clean repeal bill if we are going to actually clean up the mess that these folks have made in the state of North Carolina."
— ACLU-North Carolina (@ACLU_NC) December 21, 2016
As the Senate adjourned without an end in sight for HB2, a crowd of protesters chanted “Shame.” According to NBC, one member of the audience yelled,“Do what you said you would do.”
The ACLU and affiliated organizations are challenging HB2 in federal court. “We will continue to fight in court for transgender people to access the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity and for equal protection for the entire LGBT community in North Carolina,” said Chris Brook of the ACLU of North Carolina in a statement.
"I'm disappointed for the people of North Carolina—for the jobs that people won't have," Cooper lamented. "I'm disappointed that we did not remove the stain on our great state."
"This was our best chance," he continued. "It cannot be our last chance."