Policy

North Carolina May Be on Verge of Repealing Bathroom Bill

Special session will address state law on access by transgender people

The North Carolina state legislature building is seen in Raleigh, N.C. A special session will take up a state law that requires transgender people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A controversial North Carolina law that restricts bathroom access for transgender individuals will be the subject of a special session of the state’s legislature Wednesday — and the incoming governor said that he had been assured by lawmakers that the law would be repealed in full.

The governor-elect, Democrat Roy Cooper, said in a statement Monday that he had been assured by Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, that a session would be called to deal with the law, known as HB2. Said Cooper: “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full.”

The law had been the source of boycotts and protests ever since it was enacted in March. The National Basketball Association moved its All-Star Game from Charlotte, Bruce Springsteen and others canceled concerts, and several businesses, including PayPal and Deutsche Bank, scaled back plans to add jobs there.

In May, the Justice Department sued the state, saying the measure violated federal law. A federal judge agreed Dec. 16 to put the case on hold while the Supreme Court considers a case about transgender bathroom use for a Virginia high school student.

On Monday, outgoing GOP Gov. Pat McCrory called a special session of the state legislature while at the same time blasting Democrats for what he said was election-year politics.

McCrory and Republicans in the state said they had been forced to enact HB2 following a nondiscrimination ordinance that passed in Charlotte in February that required businesses to provide public accommodations for transgender individuals — including letting them use the bathroom of their choosing.

The state law requires individuals in public buildings and schools to use the bathroom that corresponds to the biological sex on their birth certificate.

The Charlotte City Council repealed its ordinance on Monday. In a statement announcing Wednesday’s special session, a McCrory spokesman said that Charlotte’s action “proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state.”

[Burr: NC Should Roll Back Bathroom Provision in HB2]

Berger and Moore, the state legislative leaders, echoed those sentiments, saying Democratic “efforts to force men into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor’s race.”

Many analysts believe McCrory’s more than 10,000-vote loss in November can be tied to the bathroom bill. Last week, the Republican-led legislature passed bills stripping Cooper of some of his powers.

In his statement, Cooper, who will assume office in January, said that a full repeal of the bathroom bill will “help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said it was encouraged by the news.

The bathroom bill “was an unprecedented attack on the LGBT community,” Sarah Gillooly, the state policy director for the group, said in a statement, “in particular against transgender people, and we are encouraged that its days are numbered.”

Todd Ruger contributed to this report.

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