RALEIGH, N.C. — As the new year begins, many hope for a more productive legislative season than 2016 produced. House Bill 2 (HB2), the controversial “bathroom bill” that sparked widespread protests for its violation of transgender rights, is perhaps the biggest issue being debated by politicians, activists, and journalists alike.
In an article that appeared in The Charlotte Observer, writer D.G. Martin compared the HB2 controversy to the last century’s sterilization compensation issue. Martin pointed out that the efforts of House speaker Thom Tillis rectified the state’s wrongs through decisive action to provide compensation to those wronged. The writer called on this era’s Republican leaders to follow Tillis’ example.
“If Moore and Berger are willing to go forward and find a way to repeal HB2, they should get the same kind of praise that Tillis earned when he removed a stain on North Carolina’s record,” Martin wrote.
Other journalists and activists are less hopeful, and the cited politicians give little reason for optimism.
“You won’t see the General Assembly betray its principles,” House Speaker Moore told reporters. “But if there are ways to deal with the concerns that were there and perhaps allay any issues or concerns of the business community, I think you can probably see something like that.”
Which principles Moore clings to are unclear, but it seems obvious that his notion of “compromise” will not satisfy LGBTQ advocates — and isn’t intended to do so. In a memo from Progress NC Action, writers seemed cynical.
“Republicans had a chance to support the full repeal of HB2 in December,” the memo read. “The longer Republicans refuse to support a full repeal of HB2 with no strings attached, the more the law will hurt business owners and local governments who are losing business and tax revenue thanks to this law.”
The same memo noted that the economic consequences of the discriminatory law will only continue now that repeal has failed. Commissioner of the ACC John Swofford recently announced that, without full repeal of HB2, the league is likely to keep snuffing North Carolina as a possible championship location. The NCAA may follow suit.
More than sports leagues and journalists oppose the law — voters do, too. An Election Day survey by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality North Carolina (ENC) found that 62 percent of voters opposed HB2 and 57 percent cited it as the leading reason to vote against Gov. McCrory — who lost his bid for reelection.
“North Carolina voters have sent a clear message by rejecting Pat McCrory, the face of HB2, at the ballot box,” said Rep. Chris Sgro, also executive director of ENC. “The North Carolina General Assembly has but only one option — a full and complete repeal of HB2.”
“Those who stand in the way of a clean vote to fully repeal HB2 are directly responsible for the continued harm this destructive law inflicts on the people, reputation, and economy of the state of North Carolina,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “HB2 must be repealed, and it must be repealed now.”
Newly-elected Gov. Roy Cooper agreed in his inaugural address on Jan. 7.
“This law has isolated and hurt a lot of people, damaged our state’s reputation, and cost our economy hundreds of millions of dollars that could have paid our teachers and firefighters or built new highways. There are enough bipartisan votes in the legislature right now to fully repeal House Bill 2 with no strings attached,” Gov. Cooper said. “This is not complicated. In fact, it’s very simple: Let. Them. Vote.”