RALEIGH, N.C. — Two bills have been introduced, one in each house of the North Carolina legislature, aiming to fully repeal House Bill 2 (HB2) and replace it with non-discrimination protections including sexual orientation and gender identity. In a legislature that has staunchly refused to repeal the transphobic law, sponsors of the repeal bills know that passing the new legislation may prove a serious challenge.
“It’s going to be tough, but we have to start somewhere,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), who sponsored House Bill 82 (HB82). “This bill reflects North Carolina values, unlike HB2. It is long overdue and we will work our hardest to enact this legislation.”
House Bill 78 (HB78), sponsored by openly-bisexual Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford), presents a compromise to the Republican legislators who claim that HB2 was conceived to protect women and children from bathroom sexual assault. HB78, in addition to providing LGBTQ protections, also doubles down on penalties for sexual assault. With this stipulation, House Democrats have essentially nodded to their GOP counterparts to attempt a compromise.
The assault penalty was controversial during the genesis of the bills. Proponents of HB82 claim that HB78’s language concerning sexual assault validates the GOP’s defense of HB2, which progressives have always labeled as ridiculous. Nevertheless, Brockman defends HB78 as a compromise more likely to gain broader support.
“One of my goals is to meet my Republican colleagues at their concerns,” Brockman said. “Anybody who is serious about protecting our citizens and repairing our state’s economy and image should support this bill.”
The economic toll of HB2 is undeniable, with Forbes estimating $630 million lost so far. This financial impact can only grow larger, according to a letter from the N.C. Sports Association, an organization that recruits and promotes sporting events.
“Our contacts at the NCAA tell us that, due to their stance on HB2, all North Carolina bids will be pulled from the review process and removed from consideration,” read the letter penned by Scott Dupree of the N.C. Sports Association and Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance. “That process will begin in the various sports committees starting in 7 to 10 days and continuing through February. At that point, we will be faced with a six-year drought of NCAA championships in North Carolina.”
“My hometown of Greensboro has suffered enormously from economic losses because of HB2, and the potential economic harm from the NCAA pull-out for the next 6 years is even greater,” said Rep. Harrison.
If the NCAA disregards North Carolina as a setting, other sporting organizations may follow suit.
“When the NCAA decides it will no longer conduct events in North Carolina, the Atlantic Coast Conference and many other sports organizations will surely follow,” wrote Dupree. “When compounding the effect of losing these additional sporting events, including hundreds of youth and amateur events, plus the NBA All-Star Game, we believe North Carolina could lose upwards of a half-billion dollars in economic impact.”
The newly-introduced bills seek to prevent this loss, and to repair the state’s reputation by expanding protections for LGBTQ people.