NC Governor Cooper Proposes Yet Another HB2 Repeal Deal: Will NCGA Ever Follow Through?

by HRC Staff

The people of North Carolina deserve a full, clean repeal of the state’s discriminatory law, not more political gamesmanship.

Post submitted by Stephen Peters, former Senior National Press Secretary and Spokesperson

Today, HRC and Equality NC responded to a new proposal announced today by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper that would fully repeal the state’s deeply discriminatory HB2 law and introduce additional unnecessary legislation. After the North Carolina General Assembly failed to follow through on their end of a bargain the Governor brokered in December, this new proposal would fully repeal HB2 while requiring a 30-day public comment period for cities considering non-discrimination laws, as well as strengthening punishments for sexual predators. The Charlotte City Council went through a two-year process to pass its ordinance, and there is zero evidence that sexual predator penalties are insufficient, which HRC and ENC say makes the new proposed language pointless at best.

Fair-minded lawmakers in North Carolina have already introduced bills that would fully repeal HB2 and replace it with a statewide comprehensive non-discrimination law. HRC joined ENC in praising the introduction of this legislation in January. We encourage North Carolina lawmakers to stop playing games and take this repeal-and-replace bill up for a vote.

“Back in December, Governor Cooper tried to engage HB2 backers in a repeal agreement, and the General Assembly completely failed to follow through with their end of that bargain,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “Tim Moore and Phil Berger continue to leave the people of North Carolina in harm’s way with their consistent failure to act. Today’s proposal is yet another chance to fix this mess, but it adds unnecessary language addressing problems that simply do not exist. LGBTQ people are the ones at risk every day HB2 remains on the books, and transgender people especially continue to bear the brunt of this shameful politicking.  North Carolinians deserve a full, clean repeal of HB2. When that happens, it will only be the beginning of steps needed to restore the state’s deeply tarnished reputation and economy. It’s far past time to move North Carolina forward.”

“Today’s proposal was unnecessary. Charlotte and other cities have in the past carefully considered protecting LGBTQ citizens against discrimination. We all know that transgender people do not pose a public safety risk and should be protected from discrimination, not made the targets of it as HB2 does. Let us be very clear about what’s going on. Tim Moore and Phil Berger are acting against the best interest of our state and the LGBTQ community,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “They are treating our economy like a political football and trying to cast blame on everyone else for their failure to actually repeal HB2 in December. At this point, we all know what the answer is -- full repeal of HB2. Only a full repeal of HB2 will fix our state, allow businesses to come back and allow for the safety of LGBTQ North Carolinians. Every day that Berger and Moore play politics with our state, is a day LGBTQ North Carolinians live in danger and one that our state cannot prosper.”

In a letter sent to state lawmakers last week, the North Carolina Sports Association warned that the NCAA will pull all of the state’s championship game bids through 2022 if HB2 is not immediately repealed. In the letter, the association warned lawmakers that the NCAA decision will cost the state at least another half a billion dollars in economic activity when other organizations follow the NCAA’s lead by pulling events from the state.

In December, the NC GOP doubled down on discrimination by pulling out of a deal brokered by Governor Cooper for full and total repeal of HB2. At the last minute, GOP leadership in the General Assembly blew up the governor’s deal when they sought to keep hateful, anti-LGBTQ provisions that would have maintained, potentially indefinitely, HB2’s prohibition on cities protecting their own LGBTQ residents from discrimination. These very same commonsense non-discrimination protections exist in 19 states and more than 100 cities across the country, including Jackson, MS, Louisville, KY, Orlando, FL, and Minneapolis, MN -- a city which has had these protections in place since 1975.

Following passage in March of 2016, HB2 triggered a national outcry of opposition and a broad range of voices continue to speak out demanding its full and complete repeal. The economic fallout -- including hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business -- continues to grow as companies concerned with protecting their consumers and employees move conventions, trainings, operations, productions, and other events out of state. In November, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory became the only incumbent governor from either party to lose on election day specifically because he championed and signed HB2 into law.

North Carolina polling released by HRC and Equality NC found that HB2 was the number one issue leading to Governor Pat McCrory’s defeat -- the only incumbent governor from either party to lose on election day. The HRC and Equality NC survey found that 62 percent of voters opposed HB2, while only 30 percent supported the law. HB2 was also listed as the leading reason to vote against McCrory -- with 57 percent citing the bill, 17 points above any other issue.