The intransigence of Republican leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly when it comes to repealing their disastrous mistake known as HB2 apparently is going to continue even with a reasonable compromise proposed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Cooper backs a plan that would repeal HB2, enact tougher penalties for crimes in bathrooms or locker rooms and require a 30-day period for cities to notify the General Assembly before enacting anti-discrimination ordinances. This is a compromise in every sense of the word: Republicans made a big deal out of locker rooms (a non-problem and non-issue) and also prohibited cities and towns from enacting their own anti-discrimination ordinances. The Cooper plan would give ground to them on both issues.
The governor is acting to settle the HB2 issue, citing the fact that the NCAA is going to be picking championship venues for the next six years and will do so shortly. Absent action to repeal HB2, the state could lose $250 million in economic impact from those events.
Republican leaders, looking at the loss of more and more jobs and and millions of dollars in economic benefit in light of previous decisions from the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference to move championship games from North Carolina, called a special session supposedly to repeal HB2. But Phil Berger, Senate president pro tem, and House Speaker Tim Moore couldn’t bring their Republican caucuses to full agreement.
HB2 was the GOP’s response to a Charlotte ordinance protecting transgender people from discrimination, allowing them to use the bathrooms of the sex with which they identify. Transgender people have been doing so for decades.
But Republicans seized on what they thought could be a good campaign issue for them, overrode the ordinance with all sorts of rhetoric about not wanting grown men to shower with women and girls and brought on a whirlwind. Conventions in North Carolina were called off, along with concerts by prominent artists, and then the NCAA and the ACC acted. The NBA canceled its All-Star Game slated this year in Charlotte.
This has been an economic catastrophe, and in a year when Republicans dominated elections, incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, lost his office to Cooper.
Even now, with HB2 having lost support among citizens and with Cooper coming forth with a solution, Republicans are still talking about showers and locker rooms and criticizing the governor. In other words, they appear uninterested in compromise, even as HB2 continues to hurt not just the state’s economy but its reputation around the country. Other states are competing for everything from conventions to the hiring of university professors with North Carolina and citing HB2 as a reason why the Tar Heel state should be crossed off lists. It has been and will continue to be.
If ever there were a moment of truth for Republican leaders this is it. To refuse compromise will hurt communities and individuals, for no reason other than stubborn political ideology. The short-term political benefit for the GOP is highly questionable; the long-term political damage will be unmistakable.