We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of HB2 – the “bathroom bill” – in North Carolina.
HB2, for those who haven’t been playing along, is the bill signed into law in the Tar Heel state in March 2016, in response to a broadly worded Charlotte city ordinance, that would have made all public bathrooms in the city gender neutral.
It was proposed as a “transgender rights” move, but the wording of the ordinance would have allowed for anyone to use any restroom, based on how they “felt” at that particular moment.
For instance, a 50-year old child sex offender sees an 8-year old girl go into the little girl’s room at a park facility. Hey… all of a sudden, he feels like a girl, too, so off he goes… and if you object, then obviously you’re just a bigot.
Ok, to be honest, that’s not what the ordinance said. What it said was that if you objected, tried to stop him, told him he had no right to go in any bathroom he felt like, then you could be fined $500 and/or spend 30 days in jail.
And you’re a bigot.
It became necessary for sane and decent lawmakers in the state to intervene. Democrats walked out of an emergency session of the North Carolina General Assembly, rather than vote on HB2. It was passed by state Republicans, rushed to then-Governor Pat McCrory’s desk, and signed into law on March 28, 2016.
The ensuing madness was a true peek into the dark psyche of liberals across the nation.
Musical acts that nobody cared about boycotted the state. Liberal mayors and governors refused trips to the state. The NCAA and ACC pulled championships and games from the state.
And meanwhile, businesses still thrived, many flooded the state, and Governor Pat McCrory was one of the most fiscally successful governors in the nation, pulling North Carolina up from the bottom of the heap in spectacular fashion.
Still, there was pressure to repeal, in order to stave off any further boycotts and potential revenue loss. McCrory and state Republicans were willing. All they required was that the Charlotte City Council repeal the offensive ordinance that made HB2 necessary, in the first place.
At first, the Council was willing, but at the last minute, they rejected a deal.
Leaked information revealed that Roy Cooper, McCrory’s Democrat opponent for the governorship, and several other Democrat lawmakers had talked the Charlotte City Council out of agreeing to a repeal. They wanted to use the damage to the state as a campaign tool.
And now that Cooper has the governorship, he’s still fighting repeal.
Very likely because while McCrory was ousted (to the detriment of our state), Republicans still hold the majority in the state House and Senate, and they’ve made moves to restrict bumbling Cooper’s ability to undo all the good that McCrory and the General Assembly had achieved in four short years.
With a midterm election coming up in 2018, Cooper hopes the same formula that many think worked against McCrory will work to tip the General Assembly back to the left.
The latest fight is over House Bill 186, which would successfully repeal the bathroom bill. It has bipartisan support, and industry leaders most affected by the issue are on board.
“We commend the sponsors of HB186 for coming forth with a bipartisan approach to solving a complex issue,” N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association president and CEO Lynn Minges said in a news release Thursday. “We believe this bill is a good start toward finding common ground, and we are encouraged that there will be continued collaboration from all sides involved.”
The N.C. Chamber issued a statement Thursday saying it’s “encouraged (by) and supportive of House Bill 186 as a bipartisan effort to move toward a resolution.”
N.C. Realtors, the trade group representing real-estate agents, also praised the bill, saying it “believes this compromise is reasonable and protects all citizens of North Carolina.”
“We are especially happy to see that specific language has been included in the bill which expressly and explicitly prohibits anti-discrimination in housing decisions,” N.C. Realtors CEO Andrea Bushnell said in a news release.
Were HB186 to pass, it would repeal HB2 and allow for North Carolina cities to pass nondiscrimination ordinances, but with a few reasonable limitations. For instance, they wouldn’t be able to regulate bathroom access in private facilities. What they could do, however, is regulate bathroom policy in city government-owned facilities.
Also, any nondiscrimination ordinances would be subject to a 90 day waiting period after approval, to allow for opponents of the ordinances to force a voter referendum, by submitting a petition with signatures of at least 10 percent of the voters who voted in the most recent municipal election.
The bill includes a statewide nondiscrimination law that would ban discrimination on the basis of “race, sex, national origin, citizenship, religion, age, veteran status, genetic information, pregnancy, handicap or disability.”
Like the nondiscrimination language in HB2, the protections would not extend to sexual orientation and gender identity. But it would allow UNC system boards of trustees to adopt nondiscrimination policies that go beyond the state law and add protections for other groups of people.
The bill also calls for stiffer penalties on those committing crimes in bathrooms.
Cooper and a number of Senate Democrats are opposing the new bill because it has conditions, which proves my oft-made point that it’s not about compromise, but compliance for Democrats.
That, and winning elections at the expense of the state’s well-being.