HB2 ‘compromise’ would compound discrimination against transgender people

The unforgiving national spotlight has been shining on North Carolina for more than a year because of the deeply discriminatory HB2. But even after months of harm to the state’s people, reputation and economy, Republican leaders are continuing their reckless, stubborn refusal to undo the law and end the damage it is inflicting on the Tar Heel State.

Republican lawmakers, instead of working toward a full, clean repeal of HB2 – the only solution to this mess – are engaging in blatant political gamesmanship by offering proposals that would do nothing to address the problem.

Just this week, lawmakers introduced a Republican-led proposal, HB 186, shamelessly billed as a “bipartisan compromise.” Make no mistake, this new measure would double down on the most discriminatory provisions of HB2 – only reinforcing the damage. The measure would continue to prevent equal access to facilities by transgender people, exclude LGBTQ people from crucial non-discrimination protections and fail to rectify the discrimination and harm we have been fighting against for the past year.

We cannot replace HB2 with HB2.0.

The measure even goes so far as to forbid cities from barring their contractors from using taxpayer funds to discriminate against LGBTQ people and other minorities. Shockingly, it would also allow opponents of equality to put the civil rights of minorities up for a vote by the majority through a referendum process easily triggered when city officials pass nondiscrimination measures. This proposal is truly unthinkable.

This train wreck of a bill does nothing to alleviate the economic suffering or end the unconscionable discrimination HB2 has rained down on the state. North Carolinians have made it clear that they do not want laws that hurt cities’ ability to govern, that put civil rights on the ballot and that continue to undermine equality for their LGBTQ neighbors, friends and colleagues.

What North Carolinians need – and want – is a full repeal of HB2, with no strings attached. There is no time to spare. The NCAA is poised to decide whether to disqualify North Carolina from hosting championship games through 2022 because of this discriminatory law, the latest in a series of hits the state has taken. Lawmakers must stop pushing bills that endorse discrimination against transgender people, and put to rest their strange obsession of regulating restrooms.

There can be no compromise on the equal treatment of transgender North Carolinians. They deserve the same rights and dignity as everyone other person the state, and any proposal that unfairly targets them is a proposal that we cannot and will not support. This is not about politics – it’s about fundamental rights. For us, this is non-negotiable.

By refusing to allow a vote on legislation that would truly repeal HB2, Phil Berger, Tim Moore, Chuck McGrady, and their cronies continue to play politics with the lives and livelihoods of North Carolinians, holding the state – and its future – hostage. The time for political gamesmanship, including illegally redrawing voting districts to further discriminatory aims, has long passed. The nation is watching North Carolina; the legislature has a responsibility to ensure the rights of all of its constituents.

We join in urging the North Carolina legislature to stop its political stunts and vote immediately for a full and clean repeal of HB2.

This is, at its base, an attack on the civil rights of every North Carolinian – using the transgender community as a scapegoat. Attempting to allow a ballot vote on citizens’ right to equal protection under law is not only dangerous, but harkens back to the dark days of Jim Crow. We will never compromise on equal rights.

Chris Sgro is executive director of the Equality North Carolina. William J. Barber II is president of the North Carolina NAACP. This point of view was also signed by Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer