State Politics

HB2-like bathroom bill in Virginia dies a quick death in committee

Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, welcomes visitors to the House chambers at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Marshall is asking lawmakers to support legislation that would generally prohibit individuals from using a bathroom of the opposite sex in government-owned buildings. Marshall, Republican National Committee member Cynthia Dunbar and others said the legislation was needed to help protect children. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, welcomes visitors to the House chambers at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Marshall is asking lawmakers to support legislation that would generally prohibit individuals from using a bathroom of the opposite sex in government-owned buildings. Marshall, Republican National Committee member Cynthia Dunbar and others said the legislation was needed to help protect children. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) AP

A Virginia legislator’s effort to pass a bill similar to North Carolina’s House Bill 2 was voted down in a legislative committee Thursday.

Like HB2, the bill would have banned transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender they identify with while visiting government facilities. It would also have required public school principals to notify parents with 24 hours if a child requests to be recognized as a gender that does not correspond to their gender at birth – a provision that isn’t part of the North Carolina law.

According to a reporter for the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., Virginia lawmakers – including many Republicans – stopped the bill from moving forward in a voice vote, with only one legislator voting against the move. Business leaders in Virginia had spoken out against the bill, and some worried that the state would face economic boycotts similar to what North Carolina has experienced in the past year.

Equality Virginia, an LGBT advocacy group, praised the legislative panel’s move. “Equality Virginia applauds this decision by the committee and recognizes decisions like these keep Virginia on the path of full equality, being a state that is a safe, welcoming and equal place for gay and transgender individuals,” the group posted in a statement on Twitter.

Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican who proposed the bathroom bill, dismissed reports of economic losses over HB2 in North Carolina as “back of the napkin, fake news for consumption for people like yourself,” according to CBS 6.

Like HB2’s supporters, Marshall argued that the law was needed as a safety measure to prevent men from entering women’s restrooms.

HB2 remains in effect in North Carolina, despite efforts to repeal it during a special legislative session last month. It requires transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate and bans local governments from passing their own nondiscrimination ordinances.

Gov. Roy Cooper, who brokered the failed repeal deal, said earlier this week that he’s been in talks with Republican Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore about another attempt to repeal the law.

Cooper said the challenge is that Berger and Moore want a majority of their fellow Republican lawmakers on board for repeal before holding votes. The governor said the votes for repeal are there if both Republican and Democratic lawmakers against HB2 are counted – even if the majority of Republicans vote no.

Moore told reporters last week that he thinks lawmakers will take another look at HB2 after they return to Raleigh to begin the 2017 session next week.

“Conversations continue to happen, and I think you’ll see us trying to find some compromise on that issue,” Moore said. “You won’t see the General Assembly betray its principles, but if there are ways to deal with the concerns that were there and perhaps allay any issues or concerns of the business community, I think you can probably see something like that.”

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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