As economic harm of HB2 grows, NC GOP politicians backpedal

HB2 supporters flip-flop after NCAA and ACC events

RALEIGH, N.C.—The past week presented several hopeful signs for opponents of House Bill 2 (HB2), the so-called Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. As unfortunate economic consequences continue to climb, with the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) both canceling events in the state, former supporters of the bill seem to be shifting position.

HB2 was rapidly composed at a one-day special session in March and soon signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory. The law has sparked much outrage for its blatantly discriminatory dictate that people must use the public bathrooms and changing rooms consistent with the sex on their birth certificates. Supporters of the law call it a “commonsense” measure to protect women and children, claiming that it was not intended to be discriminatory — all while spouting transphobic rhetoric as found in the brief submitted by McCrory and company at a preliminary court date in late August.

Outrage against this legislation has crossed beyond state and even national lines. Apart from the considerable job losses of canceled business expansions by PayPal and others, further harm has been done to the state’s economy by means of canceled events. Most recently, the NCAA and ACC have both announced a relocation of events originally planned to take place in North Carolina.

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On Sept. 12 the NCAA announced the relocation of seven different events that were set to take place in the state, including the NCAA basketball tournament in March 2017.

Soon after, the ACC football championship slated for Dec. 3 in Charlotte was decisively relocated. Last year, this event alone brought $32 million into the Charlotte economy. Other ACC events such as tennis tournaments and the women’s soccer tournament, as well as the ACC baseball tournament, will also be moved out of North Carolina.

The Southern Conference is also entertaining moving out of North Carolina and said that it would take up the topic via a conference call with its school athletic directors, presidents and chancellors, WWAY-TV reported. At press time this had not been decided.

The NCAA’s and ACC’s moves were met with some right-wing criticism. Notably, evangelist Franklin Graham took to Facebook with a good old-fashioned rant.

“Our legislators are being forced to consider repealing HB2 and you, your children, and your grandchildren will be at risk to sexual predators and perverts,” Graham wrote.

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McCrory’s reaction was less overtly offensive, but no less vehement.

“I’ve got to assume it’s politics because this is the No. 1 state in the presidential campaign, this is the No. 1 gubernatorial race in the United States of America,” McCrory told The Charlotte Observer.

Despite the staunch defense by McCrory and Graham, some GOP politicians seem to be wavering. Sen. Tamara Barringer (R-Wake) and Sen. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance) both released statements calling for legislative reconsideration or repeal. According the News & Observer, House Rep. Gary Pendleton said he was in favor of revisiting the law. Pendleton and Barringer are both currently in close races for re-election.

However reluctant and belated these politicians’ support for repeal may be, their statements point to a shift in the majority party’s support of HB2. As the federal court considers competing lawsuits regarding the law, and the Supreme Court weighs whether to take a case on transgender bathroom access, it seems that a decisive moment is coming in the fight for LGBT human rights and inclusion.

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