Advocates Cry Foul as NC Lawmakers Pass 'Bait and Switch' HB2 Deal
Backroom compromise aims to win back college tournaments, but rights groups warn that it further sanctions discrimination
The North Carolina General Assembly on Thursday approved a measure decried by advocacy groups as a "sham" compromise designed to end the economic boycott of the state while still sanctioning anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
"After the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 32-16, the House voted 70-48 to send it on to Gov. Roy Cooper," reported the News & Observer, which listed every lawmaker who voted for HB142, falsely branded as a repeal of the widely unpopular and transphobic bathroom bill HB2.
Late Wednesday, Cooper indicated that he supports the bill and is expected to sign it despite "enormous outcry."
"This is not a repeal of HB 2. Instead, they’re reinforcing the worst aspects of the law," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT Project. "North Carolina lawmakers should be ashamed of this backroom deal that continues to play politics with the lives of LGBT North Carolinians."
Sarah Gillooly, policy director of the ACLU of North Carolina, which along with the organization's national chapter and Lambda Legal have been fighting HB2 in federal court, said: "The governor and General Assembly may be turning their backs on LGBT North Carolinians today, but we are not. We will continue to fight in court for transgender people to access the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity and for equal protection for the entire LGBT community in North Carolina."
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) March 30, 2017
— TaskForceActionFund (@lgbtqtaskforce) March 30, 2017
In an effort to "repair" the reputation of North Carolina and win back some of the millions lost as a result of the state's transphobic bathroom law, lawmakers on Thursday are rushing to pass an alleged compromise deal that rights advocates are warning will only further sanction discrimination.
|Tweets about hb2|
The backroom deal, struck late Wednesday night between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican leaders, Senate chief Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, according to the Charlotte Observer, is being pitched as a repeal of the controversial House Bill 2, or HB2.
In actuality, HB142 offers no state-level protection for LGBTQ people and includes a moratorium that prevents local governments from passing non-discrimination ordinances through at least 2020.
The state Senate and House are both expected to take up the measure early Thursday, reportedly hoping to meet a deadline set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) "to make changes to the controversial law or lose the ability to host sports championships through 2022," the Observer notes.
The organization joined the boycott of North Carolina last year in response to widespread outrage over HB2.
A recent Associated Press analysis found that the law would cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over 12 years—a dramatic outflow of cash that lawmakers are frantic to stem. In a statement following the late-night negotiation, Governor Cooper said he supports the compromise, adding: "It's not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation."
Panning that rhetoric as "political spin," Raymond Braun, creator of an LGBTQ-themed YouTube channel, outlined in a lengthy Twitter thread how lawmakers are essentially "voting to make protecting LBGTQ people illegal," writing, in part:
The "deal" boxes LGBTQ people out of non-discrimination protections at the local level in a state that has no statewide protections.
— Raymond Braun (@raymondbraun) March 30, 2017
Similarly Chad Griffin, president of the LGBTQ advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign, said in a late Wednesday statement that "the rumored HB2 'deal' does nothing more than double-down on discrimination and would ensure North Carolina remains the worst state in the nation for LGBTQ people. The consequences of this hateful law will only continue without full repeal of HB2."
Pointing to the NCAA deadline, Griffin added: "Sellouts cave under pressure. Leaders fight for what's right."
Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the ACLU of North Carolina, also called on lawmakers to "reject this disgraceful backroom deal that uses the rights of LGBT people as a bargaining chip."
She continued: "One year after HB2 was introduced and signed into law in just 12 hours, it is shameful that legislative leaders and North Carolina's governor are once again rushing through a discriminatory anti-LGBT measure without proper vetting or an opportunity for public input. The way to undo HB2's profound damage to North Carolina and its people has always been a full, clean repeal, but this proposal would keep anti-LGBT provisions of the law in place and continue to single out and target transgender people. Lawmakers must vote against this proposal, and should it reach his desk, Governor Cooper should withdraw his support and veto it."
And Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the NC chapter of the NAACP, which launched a national boycott of the state, declared HB2 an "insult to human rights" that must be "repealed in full."
"This bill is anti-worker, anti-access to the courts, and anti-LGBTQ," Barber said in a Thursday statement.
"It is shameful for Tim Moore and Phil Berger to demand a discriminatory compromise on a bill that should have never been passed in the first place. Setting a moratorium on local governments ability to pass anti-discrimination ordinances and to regulate private employment practices is another sweeping act of hubris by the legislature and takes power from officials elected by the people to serve the rights of the people," he said.
"This is a bait and switch," Barber declared, vowing that his organization and the Moral Monday movement he founded "will continue to fight against retaliatory voter suppression, anti-worker legislation, and any backroom efforts to enshrine discrimination in our laws. Above all, any moratorium on civil rights is not a compromise, it is a contradiction with the principle of equal protection under the law and our moral values. We call on all those who stand for justice to vote no on compromise and pass a clean, full repeal of HB2."