North Carolina attempts bait-and-switch with NCAA, pushes new anti-LGBT bill

The new “compromise” would extend much of HB2, which is costing the state billions.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) campaigned on repealing HB2, but is now under fire for supporting a “compromise” that maintains anti-LGBT discrimination. CREDIT: AP Photo/Ben McKeown
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) campaigned on repealing HB2, but is now under fire for supporting a “compromise” that maintains anti-LGBT discrimination. CREDIT: AP Photo/Ben McKeown

Late Wednesday night, for the second day in a row, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R) and Senate leader Phil Berger (R) held a press conference announcing that they’d established yet another “compromise” to repeal HB2 with Gov. Roy Cooper (D). They are planning to force it through the legislature on Thursday. The “compromise” is not a clean repeal of the anti-transgender law, HB2. It would maintain much of the discriminatory aspects of the law its replacing.

The reason Republican lawmakers are rushing is that the NCAA reportedly set Thursday as a deadline for the state to repeal HB2 or risk losing the opportunity to host any championship games through 2022. This means that Thursday’s “compromise” effort is specifically geared toward making money off all those games, but if the NCAA’s concern was removing discrimination from the law, this effort doesn’t meet the standard.

Thursday’s “compromise” bill actually maintains many aspects of HB2. The law prohibited municipalities from establishing LGBT protections at the local level and mandated that in all public facilities, transgender people could only use facilities that match the sex on their birth certificate. The proposed “compromise” repeals HB2, but then immediately reinstates much of it:

  • Only the state legislature would be able to pass any legislation related to the use of multiple-occupancy bathrooms. Thus, no city or public school could assure trans people that they can use facilities that actually match their gender identity.
  • Municipalities would still be banned from passing any LGBT nondiscrimination protections until December 1, 2020.

Cooper agreed to the plan without consulting any LGBT groups. Cooper said he supports the “compromise,” explaining, “It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation.”

LGBT group’s anger over the “compromise” has been directed as much at the Democratic governor who promised to repeal HB2 as the Republicans trying to hold onto it.

The Human Rights Campaign’s Chad Griffin came out swinging:

GLAAD’s Sarah Kate Ellis similarly called out Cooper for supporting the “compromise”:

Chris Sgro of Equality NC described the proposal as “train wreck that would double down on anti-LGBTQ discrimination,” and the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Mara Keisling called it “a cynical ploy that will continue to hurt North Carolina and transgender people.” She also pointed out, “Gov. Cooper ran his campaign on fully repealing HB 2 and protecting transgender North Carolinians It is an outrageous betrayal that he supports this fake repeal.”

ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, who has been part of the litigation challenging HB2, also highlighted that by continuing to regulate bathroom usage, the “compromise” reinforces the stigma against transgender people.

The reason North Carolina experienced a massive economic blowback is because companies know that discrimination is bad for employees, bad for customers, and overall bad for business. A recent analysis by the AP found that the state stands to lose $3.76 billion in revenue over the next twelve years because of business objections to HB2. That includes lost jobs from companies like PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and CoStar Group that canceled expansions in the state, as well as lost revenue from events like concerts and sporting events.

Several major companies immediately came out against the anti-LGBT “compromise.”

Former Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who lost reelection and can’t find work because of his adamant defense of HB2, endorsed the compromise, saying it “still respects privacy” — code for the myth that transgender people are dangerous.

So far, the NCAA has not issued any comment over the new “compromise.” Earlier this month, however, NCAA President Mark Emmert issued a statement recommitting himself and the NCAA board to “maintaining a college sports experience that is inclusive and fair for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.” He explained that “the bidding process for hosting NCAA events now explicitly asks potential sites how they will provide an environment that is safe, respectful and free of discrimination at the events.”

If North Carolina cities are prohibited from passing protections for LGBT people or ensuring transgender people can use the appropriate facilities, then the “compromise” will fall far short of that bar.

The Senate is expected to consider the “compromise” first thing Thursday morning, and the House will immediately follow. The last time one of these “compromise” ploys was attempted, back in December, it failed in the Senate.

North Carolina Republicans continue to refuse any consideration of a clean repeal of HB2.

UPDATE: After being rushed through the Senate Rules Committee Thursday morning on a voice vote, the full Senate took up the “compromise” bill. Discussion only lasted about ten minutes, with Sen. Dan Blue (D) praising the bill based on his belief it would end the economic fallout and Sen. Dan Bishop (R), the original sponsor of HB2, condemning the compromise for not being discriminatory enough. Not a single senator spoke against the bill for maintaining legalized discrimination against LGBT people. It passed 32–16 and was sent to the House.

UPDATE: Unlike the Senate, the House actually debated the “compromise” bill before voting, including consideration of a motion to delay the vote until next week, which failed. After about two hours of discussion, the House voted 70–48 to pass the sham repeal.

It now gets sent to Cooper for his signature.

UPDATE: Cooper signed the bill Thursday afternoon, claiming he now believes sports will return to North Carolina. At a news conference, he described the bill as “the best deal we can get” with Republican control of the legislature. He also claimed the “compromise” bill will allow cities to pass LGBT protections, even though it explicitly states the opposite.