HB2 became law in March, so here’s a quick refresher on the controversial law’s details:
It’s not just about bathrooms: The law’s best-known provision requires visitors to schools and other government facilities to use the bathroom of the gender that appears on their birth certificates.
But the law also prohibits local governments from enacting their own regulations that ban discrimination. Instead, it creates a statewide law that bans discrimination on the basis of “race, religion, color, national origin or biological sex” at businesses and other “places of public accommodation.” But those protections don’t include sexual orientation and gender identity as categories protected from discrimination.
And the law restricts local governments from regulating employment practices. Cities and counties can’t require contractors to pay specific wages or offer certain worker benefits as a condition of bidding for government work.
HB2 has been revised, but not much: Throughout this year’s legislative session, rumors swirled about a compromise that would soften the law and perhaps avoid further economic losses like canceled sporting events.
Draft legislation circulated in June that included a proposal to offer “gender reassignment certificates” that would allow transgender people who haven’t changed the gender on their birth certificate to prove they’ve had gender reassignment surgery – and can therefore use the bathroom they prefer. In the end, legislators couldn’t agree on a compromise, and the proposal was never introduced.
Instead, lawmakers made a single tweak to HB2 in the final hours of the legislative session: They repealed a provision that limited workplace discrimination lawsuits in state courts. HB2 generally requires those lawsuits to be filed in federal courts, which is a more complicated and difficult process.
Conflicting statements about who wrote HB2: Gov. Pat McCrory during the summer said the N.C. Chamber of Commerce “helped write” two parts of the bill, but the group says that’s not true.
McCrory didn't elaborate on the comment, which put him at odds with the state’s largest pro-business organization.
Several of the non-bathroom provisions first surfaced on the final day of the 2015 legislative session in an 11th-hour bill that ultimately failed to win enough support in the House.
Controversy started in Charlotte: Legislators scheduled the special session to pass HB2 shortly after the Charlotte City Council approved a new nondiscrimination ordinance on Feb. 22.
The ordinance added sexual orientation and gender identity to protected categories, and it allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with – both in government facilities and in “places of public accommodation,” such as restaurants and hotels.
“This action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate state legislative intervention, which I would support as governor,” McCrory wrote to Charlotte leaders shortly before the ordinance was approved.