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Friday, March 31, 2017


NC: Trading rights for tournaments

by Tom Sullivan

You must be doing something right if everyone is angry at you, the saying goes. NC Gov. Roy Cooper and the state's general assembly will be making that argument in defense of the repeal yesterday of the state's notorious HB2, a.k.a. the "bathroom bill."

It was the best bill he could get Republicans to agree to, Cooper explained, saying, "In a perfect world with a good General Assembly, we would have repealed House Bill 2 fully today and added full state wide protections for LGBT North Carolinians."

The first thing that stands out is that neither caucus held together. Over half the Democrats in the Senate minority voted yes. Thirty percent of Republicans voted no. In the House, one third of Democrats voted no while Republicans split almost evenly.

The bill does not ban transgender persons from using the public facilities matching their gender identities, but does not explicitly permit them to either. This matches most other states, the Raleigh News and Observer reports. But it bans state municipalities from passing or amending public accommodations ordinances (like the one Charlotte passed that sparked this controversy) until after the 2020 governor's race.

The News and Observer continues:

With no state law or local ordinances addressing sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in public accommodations, establishments like hotels and restaurants would still legally be able to discriminate against LGBT people – or any other class of people that state law doesn’t explicitly protect, like veterans.
The repeal bill extends until 2020 the ban on municipal ordinances regarding implementing minimum wage, hours, benefits and leave policies.

Cooper immediately drew heat:
LGBT groups, the NAACP, the ACLU and other progressive groups appealed for a “no” vote on HB142. State NAACP President William Barber called it “anti-worker, anti-access to the courts, and anti-LGBT.”

The deal also places Cooper at odds with Charlotte’s mayor – and fellow Democrat – Jennifer Roberts.

Conservative groups were not happy either. The N.C. Values Coalition and Christian Action League opposed the repeal. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest expressed concern that some Republicans who voted for the bill may face primaries.

In a statement issued Thursday morning, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina condemned any deal that “uses the rights of LGBT people as a bargaining chip.” Because what gets lost in the coverage is the tawdriness of the state's renewed urgency to repeal the offensive HB2 in the face of an NCAA deadline for selecting tournament sites. When dollars and dribbling are on the line in North Carolina, rights and principles are negotiable.

The New York Times Editorial Board writes this morning:

It’s mystifying that Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat whose narrow election in November was seen as something of a referendum on H.B. 2, would regard the amended law as a suitable compromise. The repeal law did away with the birth certificate requirement, which was unenforceable all along because it would have turned law enforcement officials into genital inspectors. But it bars schools and other government entities from adopting policies allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their choice. And it still prohibits anti-discrimination ordinances until 2020.

Mr. Cooper said the compromise with the Republican-controlled legislature was “not perfect,” but he held out hope that the repeal would start to “repair our reputation.” He and other Democrats who supported the compromise said they concluded that a modest step toward undoing the law was the best they could hope for while Republicans have veto-proof majorities in the legislature. That is misguided. The deal was struck days after The Associated Press reported that the backlash against the law would cost North Carolina at least $3.7 billion in business over 12 years.
Cooper's decision is all the more mystifying since the same NCGOP team burned him with the whole world watching on his last try at repeal in December.

Charlotte's mayor Jennifer Roberts called the state's actions yesterday a "false repeal." Echoes of Indiana Jones' quest for the Holy Grail. Time will tell whether those who drank from the cup of compromise chose poorly.