Under the Dome

GOP legislator from Raleigh wants special session to address HB2

Rep. Gary Pendleton
Rep. Gary Pendleton

Rep. Gary Pendleton of Raleigh is the third Republican legislator to call for repealing parts of House Bill 2, saying he’d like to see a special legislative session within weeks to address the issue.

Pendleton spoke to The News & Observer Thursday, days after the NCAA and ACC announced they’d be moving sporting events out of North Carolina in response to the controversial LGBT law.

“I think we ought to go back into session for a day or two and definitely revisit it,” he said, adding that any changes still must prevent men from entering women’s bathrooms. “I wouldn’t vote to repeal it unless we passed a law that covered the safety of bathrooms and showers and all that.”

Pendleton joins Sen. Tamara Barringer of Cary and Sen. Rick Gunn of Burlington, who have made similar statements this week.

Pendleton says he’s talked to other Republican lawmakers who’d support revising HB2, but he’s not sure they’d form a majority of the legislature.

“Even if it doesn’t pass, at least the people will know that a certain group of people tried,” he said, adding that some Republicans likely would still vote against any changes. “Some people are so far out there on the right that they don’t care.”

Pendleton didn’t vote for HB2 in March, but he also didn’t vote against it, instead getting an excused absence from the special session along with two other Republicans.

“When I saw it was coming up, I didn’t go to the session,” he said, adding that he instead wanted state leaders to sue the city of Charlotte for overstepping its authority in passing a nondiscrimination ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. “I wasn’t going to go down there and get harassed and harassed and harassed to vote for something I just didn’t want to vote for.”

Pendleton said most Republicans thought HB2 would only address the bathroom issue. “When they got there, here was this thing with about 15 other things tacked on it,” he said.

He said he joined other lawmakers in the short session to seek a compromise revising HB2. But Democrats refused to support anything other than a full repeal, and some Republicans also wouldn’t back the compromise.

Pendleton says no one expected the level of economic losses HB2 has brought to North Carolina. “I think it’s gone further than most people would have dreamed it would,” he said.

He says he thinks HB2 will cost him some votes in November’s election, when he faces Democrat Cynthia Ball. She issued a news release earlier Thursday calling for Pendleton to back a full repeal of the law, which she says he “has always been a dedicated supporter of.”