Wednesday capped off a breakneck four days of emergency meetings, special legislative sessions and frenzied rhetoric in which Charlotte City Council and the state legislature sparred over the repeal of House Bill 2, the state’s controversial LGBT law.
The final campaign to repeal HB2 kicked into high gear Sunday night. Here’s an overview of what happened in the final days leading to Wednesday’s special session.
▪ Sunday night: Governor-elect Roy Cooper, a Democrat who opposed HB2, called City Council members and lobbied them to repeal amendments the city passed in February to its nondiscrimination ordinance. Those additions included adding protections for LGBT individuals to the ordinance.
Cooper called Democratic Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles at 10 p.m. and Democrat Julie Eiselt a half-hour later, they told the Observer. He said “if we cleaned up our books, that the General Assembly was motivated to call a special session to repeal (the law), and we felt this was our best opportunity,” Eiselt said. City Council had twice turned down a similar deal earlier this year, but this time a majority of members agreed to the measure.
▪ Monday morning: In a surprise, unannounced move, Charlotte City Council met early Monday and voted unanimously to repeal key parts of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. The repeal covered the most controversial portion of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance passed in February, which allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender with which they identify.
The city’s repeal was contingent on the legislature meeting and repealing HB2 by Dec. 31, however. In response to the City Council vote, Gov. Pat McCrory called for a special session on Wednesday.
▪ Tuesday: As lawmakers gathered in Raleigh on Tuesday ahead of the special session, some Republican members and media reports charged that Charlotte City Council hadn’t actually repealed all of its ordinance. House Republicans spent four hours in a caucus meeting Tuesday night.
The confusion apparently stemmed from which parts of the city’s nondiscrimination protections were repealed. Sections preventing city contractors from discriminating based on new categories such as gender identity – which the city amended in February along with the restroom and locker room, or “public accommodation,” sections – were left on the books. The Charlotte city attorney later said that since City Council’s repeal addressed the public accommodations addressed by HB2, they thought it was sufficient.
As it became apparent the HB2 repeal might be in serious trouble, Charlotte City Council issued an unusual statement at 11:24 p.m. from Republican member Ed Driggs. He said that there was no intent to deceive the state and offered to reconvene City Council immediately to “address any unintended omissions.”
▪ Wednesday: At 1:11 a.m., the N.C. GOP issued a statement charging that “City Council lied to the public about a full repeal” and “seriously harmed HB2 repeal efforts.”
“The HB2 blood is now stain soaked (sic) on theirs alone,” wrote the party’s executive director, Dallas Woodhouse.
At 7:48 a.m., Charlotte City Council officially called a rare emergency meeting. Less than an hour before the state legislature was scheduled to convene, City Council voted 7 to 2 to repeal all of the changes they made to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, including the vendor and contractor nondiscrimination rules that had been left in place. The change was no longer tied to a Dec. 31 deadline, but took effect immediately. The move, in essence, restored Charlotte’s non-discrimination rules to what they had been before February.
But after more than nine hours of political wrangling between Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature, the repeal effort failed, leaving HB2 in force.