Both liberal and conservative groups lined up quickly Thursday to lambaste North Carolina lawmakers for repealing the state’s controversial “bathroom bill” House Bill 2.
The compromise reset bathroom access for transgender people back to pre-HB2 standards and included a moratorium preventing local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances through at least 2020. Both the Senate and House approved the compromise Thursday.
Advocates for the gay community called the deal “a sell out,” while conservative groups like the N.C. Family Policy Council and the NC Values Coalition criticized it as move to negate a “common sense privacy law.” The latter refers to their belief that giving transgender people rights to use the restroom of their gender identity allows sexual predators into women’s restrooms.
“The leaders of our State have let the people of North Carolina down,” said Tami Fitzgerald of the NC Values Coalition. “Today’s repeal vote...leaves the state without a statewide public policy on privacy and safety in bathrooms, locker rooms and showers and simply kicks this debate three years down the road.”
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The Washington-based Family Research Council said North Carolinians should actually be alarmed, because the compromise signals “elected officials are ultimately willing to surrender to the courts and the NCAA on matters of safety and public policy.”
“Lawmakers who voted for this legislation have no right to complain about activist judges,” said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
Pro gay rights groups including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Equality NC and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) condemned the compromise within minutes of its passage, calling it “shameful” and a “fake repeal.” The HRC promised it would explore “every legal action” to combat the legislation. The ACLU and Lambda Legal had been in the process of challenging HB2 in federal court on behalf of four LGBT North Carolinians.
“After more than a year of inaction, today North Carolina lawmakers doubled-down on discrimination,” said a statement from Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
“This new law does not repeal HB2. Instead, it institutes a statewide prohibition on equality by banning non-discrimination protections across North Carolina and fuels the flames of anti-transgender hate. Each and every lawmaker who supported this bill has betrayed the LGBTQ community.”
The compromise effectively bans cities from adopting LGBTQ non-discrimination protections statewide through 2020, and permanently bars cities from passing laws that ensure transgender people can access facilities in accordance with their gender identity, the HRC noted.
Charlotte’s city council had adopted such LGBT protections last year, which is what prompted the state to hurried pass HB2.
“(State) lawmakers replaced a bad bill with another bad bill. This fake repeal is an attempt to silence LGBT people,” said Simone Bell, southern regional director at Lambda Legal.
“It is shameful to stamp a start date on equality. We demand a full, clean repeal, and that includes comprehensive non-discrimination protections. Do not leave our community unprotected in the name of ‘compromise’.”
Critics of the compromise, both conservative and liberal, said the General Assembly’s decision to repeal HB2 in a day suggested lawmakers were “scurrying to make concessions just to appease the NCAA,” which threatened to overlook N.C. for championship games unless HB2 was repealed by Thursday.
“This may satisfy the basketball poo bahs of the NBA, NCAA, and ACC, but many feel left behind,” said a statement from Progress NC. “This story is not over. It’s to be continued.”
Among the voices of support for the compromise was former N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, who posted a statement on Facebook urging the General Assembly and Gov. Roy Cooper to pass the measure.
The compromise “is a common-sense reset that respects privacy and allows the Supreme Court to resolve this issue for our nation once and for all,” McCrory wrote.
“How our country legally defines gender ultimately will not be decided by any mayor, governor, state legislature, or university chancellor on the board of the NCAA.”