The controversy surrounding House Bill 2 (HB2) sees developments every day. The anti-LGBTQ legislation, which mandates public restroom use by birth sex and nullifies local non-discrimination protections, has had massive pushback from advocates and allies. In the interest of keeping our readers informed, qnotes breaks down the avalanche of headlines and provides a brief but comprehensive breakdown of HB2 news.
House Speaker Tim Moore interviewed with Time Warner Cable News, commenting on HB186, the controversial HB2 repeal bill that activists are calling “HB 2.0.” Moore called on Democrats to support the bill, saying, “I think that the Democrats need to understand that this is a true compromise. If they want any kind of resolution to this issue, this is the opportunity. If they choose not to take advantage of this opportunity, then there will probably be no further discussions on this bill for the next couple of years.” Moore also spoke against Gov. Roy Cooper’s actions in the negotiation and repeal process and suggested that communication with the governor was pointless: “I don’t know that any further phone calls are warranted at this point,” Moore said.
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest traveled to Texas to work with Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick promoting the Texas Privacy Act, that state’s version of North Carolina’s HB2. The Texas bill is in its early stages and is struggling to find support. Lt. Gov. Forest has come under fire from political rivals for the trip. “Instead of working with Governor Cooper to repeal this horrible and destructive bill, Forest is actively working to spread this kind of legislation to other states,” said North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds. “It’s no surprise then that Forest and his fellow Republicans are blocking Governor Cooper’s efforts to find a reasonable compromise to repeal House Bill 2.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit announced that it will hear oral arguments on Carcaño v. McCrory on May 10. The ACLU and Lambda Legal, representing four LGBTQ North Carolinians in the case, released a joint statement: “We look forward to being back in court to fight to ensure that all transgender people in North Carolina are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve and that is required by law.”
North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Wayne Goodwin held a press conference condemning GOP leaders for their continued inaction and sabotage of HB2 repeal: “Despite public widespread opposition to keeping House Bill 2 on the books, Republican leaders are actively undermining political support for any compromise. It’s time for Republicans in the General Assembly to show some leadership and join Governor Cooper in working to find a solution.”
The New Hampshire House of Representatives debated tabling a bill that would extend non-discrimination protections to include gender identity. House Speaker Shawn Jasper used rhetoric reminiscent of the HB2 debacle, saying, “I am going to protect my family, and if I see somebody with a 5 o’clock shadow trying to go into the ladies room where my wife or daughter is, my natural instinct is to not let that happen.” Nevertheless, the New Hampshire non-discrimination bill has broad support.
The News & Observer published the discovery that shortly before Election Day, former Gov. Pat McCrory and his team fabricated news that the 2018 Hula Bowl would come to Raleigh. McCrory used the announcement as an example of how HB2 has not impacted sports tourism in North Carolina — but the event never committed to Raleigh and negotiations halted.
NC Policy Watch published a profile of two transgender advocates, Candis Cox and Ames Simmons, who have fought for HB2 repeal. In the interview, Cox said that the media and political focus on the economic impact of the law overlooks the most important impact: that on the people. “This isn’t a law about college sports. This is a law about real peoples’ real lives,” Cox said. “It hurts me because I feel that by not talking about me — and by me I mean the people who are affected by this — they’re taking our fight, our voice, the shame and the humiliation we’re going through, from us.”
In Gov. Cooper’s first State of the State address to the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA), the governor made clear that his foremost priority is full, clean repeal of HB2. He compared the law to a “dark cloud hanging over our state of promise. It drains the energy from what should be our work for the people of this state.” He vowed that if the legislature would “Pass a clean repeal of HB2 and I will sign it the same day.”
Progress NC Action organized an event to raise the voices of disappointed voters whose representatives promised full repeal during the election and haven’t delivered. Particularly emphasized, Rep. Chris Malone (R-Wake) called for full repeal weeks before his re-election, but has been silent about the various repeal bills, then expressing support for “HB 2.0.” Said one of Rep. Malone’s constituents, “When Chris Malone told voters in our district he supported a full repeal of HB2, we believed him,” said Lisa Lutz.
Democrats in the NCGA introduced an amendment to cleanly repeal HB2. Malone, along with Rep. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg), Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), and Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) voted unanimously with other Republicans in the NCGA to oppose a full repeal of HB2.
Greensboro News & Record columnist Susan Ladd wrote about the personal impact on HB2 on LGBTQ North Carolinians. Ladd asked whether the NCGA would repeal if the legislators had to face the same discrimination as transgender citizens. “Suppose Moore had to fear being beaten to death in a public restroom for wearing a suit?” Ladd asks. “That’s the reality for LGBTQ North Carolinians and has been for decades.”
March 23 was the one-year anniversary of the day HB2 was passed in a one-day special session of the NCGA and signed by Gov. McCrory. On the anniversary, NC Policy Watch has slated as of press time to hold a Crucial Conversation luncheon with an expert panel including: Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina; Ames Simmons, lobbyist and director of Transgender Policy at Equality North Carolina; and Rick Glazier, executive director of the North Carolina Justice Center. The panel will discuss the history of HB2 and the path forward.