North Carolina Democrats have countered HB2 with a non-discrimination bill that would provide protections to the LGBT community.
It would ban discrimination based on a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, sex, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military or veteran status, or genetic information, in employment, public accommodations, education, insurance and credit.
Representatives Chris Sgro, Pricey Harrison, Susan Fisher and Kelly Alexander introduced the bill Tuesday, May 11. Sgro is the only openly gay member of the General Assembly. He is also the executive director of Equality NC, which is suing the state over HB2, along with the ACLU and Lambda Legal.
Sgro said in a press conference that the state must “repeal House Bill 2 if we want to not lose billions of dollars in federal funding and stop hemorrhaging business.”
HB2 stripped cities and municipalities of the ability to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances.
“Rather than wasting taxpayer dollars defending an indefensible attempt to defy federal civil rights laws, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly should repeal HB2 and replace it with this common sense LGBT non-discrimination bill,” JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs, said in a press release. “This bill is an important step forward that would ensure that everyone, including LGBT people, can live free from fear of discrimination.”
There are also two bills seeking to repeal HB2 which have been previously filed: HB 946, sponsored by Representatives Jackson, Meyer, Hamilton and G. Martin, and SB 784, sponsored by Senators Van Duyn, J. Jackson and Woodard.
“We have always known, and come to understand even more urgently during the HB2 debate, the incredible need for non-discrimination protections for LGBT and other North Carolinians,” Sgro said. “This bill, along with the repeal of HB2, is the important next step that this General Assembly and Governor McCrory must take in order to make North Carolina a true state of equality and help heal our national reputation.”
HB2 also requires transgender individuals to use the bathrooms and locker rooms matching the gender on their birth certificate, prevents cities and states from setting a higher minimum wage and prevents citizens from suing over discrimination in state courts. Those issues are not dealt with in “The Equality For All Act,” but would be with a repeal of HB2, which companion bills HB 946 and SB 784 aim to do.
Gov. McCrory has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice over HB2, seeking to clarify whether the bill is discriminatory. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger have filed a similar one.
The Justice Department have filed one of their own suit, against the state of North Carolina, Gov. McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina.
“We are seeking a court order declaring HB2’s restroom restriction impermeably discriminatory, as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a press conference Monday, May 9.
Lynch announced that while the federal government was not pulling Title IX funding at this time, they “retain the option of curtailing federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina as this case proceeds.”
“Our lawsuit makes clear that it’s our position that federal law has been clear for some time now that discrimination against sex includes discrimination against individuals based on sexual identity, gender identity,” she said. “The law is clear, the cases are clear, and the Fourth Circuit recently made it clear, frankly only about two weeks ago.”