North Carolina’s new Democratic Governor has made yet another proposal to dismantle the state’s anti-trans law, in spite of opposition from state Republicans.
The state lost a string of big investment ventures after Republicans pushed through HB2, which voided all local ordinances protecting LGBT rights, banned transgender people from using their preferred bathroom, and permitted businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on the grounds of religious belief.
The state’s new Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has vowed to repeal the law, but Republicans who hold majorities in the state legislature are blocking repeal, after backing out of a compromise deal in December.
Following Republican claims that repealing HB2 would make bathrooms unsafe, Cooper is calling their bluff – with a new bill that would repeal HB2 but tackle crime in bathrooms.
In addition to fully repealing the anti-LGBT law, his proposed bill would strengthening punishments for sexual predators who commit crimes “in restrooms and dressing rooms”, tackling one of the key arguments peddled by supporters of HB2.
A pro-Republican ad in the state previously depicted a fictional little girl getting raped because of transgender equality.
Cooper’s new bill would also require that local governments give the state legislature 30 days’ notice before voting on non-discrimination ordinances
The Governor said: “I know North Carolinians are tired of hearing about this. HB 2 has divided us and stained our reputation.
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“I’ve proposed a common sense compromise that will get HB2 off the books and address concerns on both sides. It’s time for Republican leaders to step up and lead their members because February needs to be the month we get this done.”
Activists from the Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina have urged Republicans to take the opportunity to finally end the impasse, though they branded the extra wording in the bill “unnecessary”.
HRC exec JoDee Winterhof said: “Back in December, Governor Cooper tried to engage HB2 backers in a repeal agreement, and the General Assembly completely failed to follow through with their end of that bargain.
“[State Republican leaders] Tim Moore and Phil Berger continue to leave the people of North Carolina in harm’s way with their consistent failure to act.
“Today’s proposal is yet another chance to fix this mess, but it adds unnecessary language addressing problems that simply do not exist.”
Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro added: “We all know that transgender people do not pose a public safety risk and should be protected from discrimination, not made the targets of it as HB2 does.
“Let us be very clear about what’s going on. Tim Moore and Phil Berger are acting against the best interest of our state and the LGBTQ community.
“They are treating our economy like a political football and trying to cast blame on everyone else for their failure to actually repeal HB2 in December. At this point, we all know what the answer is – full repeal of HB2.
“Only a full repeal of HB2 will fix our state, allow businesses to come back and allow for the safety of LGBTQ North Carolinians. Every day that Berger and Moore play politics with our state, is a day LGBTQ North Carolinians live in danger and one that our state cannot prosper.”