photo via Reuters
In a surprise twist that no one saw coming — JK, you probably saw this coming! — North Carolina Republican lawmakers didn’t honor their word when they said they would repeal HB2 in full. Instead they delivered a half-assed deal that kinda repeals HB2 with a major stipulation.
The bill they filed, SB4, does repeal HB2, including the restrictions against trans people using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender. But the catch is that it comes with a “Six-Month Cooling-Off Period” in which: “No local government in this State may enact or amend an ordinance regulating employment practices or regulating public accommodations or access to restrooms, showers, or changing facilities.” The state Senate and House of Representatives now need to vote on the bill.
Encouraged by Governor-elect Roy Cooper, the Charlotte City Council repealed their non-discrimination ordinance and in exchange the General Assembly called a special session to repeal HB2 entirely. It seemed like the city council was under the impression they would be able to repass their ordinance as soon as HB2 was repealed. Now with this “Six-Month Cooling-Off Period” that’s not the case and LGBTQ people, especially trans people, in North Carolina won’t have any legal protections for at least six months. So while they may not be specifically targeted in the exact same way, they also aren’t protected at all.
In other words, Republicans didn’t keep their end of the deal, and never intended to. HB2 already prevented municipalities from passing non-discrimination protections, so with this added moratorium HB2 gets to live for at least six more months.
Rep. Chris Sgro, a Democrat and an openly gay legislator, told CNN the waiting period could be renewed again and again. “It’s going to continue discrimination,” Sgro said. “We had better see a clean repeal bill if we are going to actually clean up the mess that these folks have made in the state of North Carolina.”
UPDATE: According to ThinkProgress, once the bill’s language was revealed, Cooper told Democrats to oppose supporting the repeal because of the 6-month waiting period. Now it seems that lawmakers will not pass anything at all. Without the support of Democrats, there aren’t enough Republican votes to pass the repeal with the 6-month moratorium.