RALEIGH, N.C. — In a rushed collaboration not publicized until yesterday, North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) Republican leadership crafted an HB2 repeal bill that activists are calling “HB 2.0.” The bill, HB 142, passed through Senate and House chambers and was signed by Gov. Cooper despite LGBTQ advocates calling for the governor to veto the measure.
A release from the Freedom Center for Social Justice argues that HB 142 “codifies discrimination further into North Carolina state law and treats transgender and gender non-conforming people as second-class citizens by denying them equal protection under the law.”
HB 142, in 19 lines, does in fact repeal HB2 — but it also contains two other stipulations that have LGBTQ activists and allies up in arms.
The bill prevents local agencies, like the UNC system or school boards, from regulating multiple-occupancy bathrooms or changing areas. This responsibility is left up to the state, according to HB 142.
It also prohibits local governments from enacting non-discrimination ordinances concerning private employment practices or public accommodations until Dec. 1, 2020.
In fact, the bill is similar to the compromise rejected in Dec. 2016 because it included a six-month moratorium on local non-discrimination ordinances. But HB 142’s moratorium is nearly four years, instead.
HB 142 is perhaps the descendant of HB 186, the “compromise” floated earlier this month that would have put local non-discrimination ordinances up to a referendum vote.
LGBTQ advocates are unanimously opposed to HB 142, in spite of the bill being backed by Gov. Cooper and several NCGA Democrats.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU NC) sent a letter to the governor urging him to veto the law after it passed through Congress.
“This is not a repeal of HB 2. Instead, they’re reinforcing the worst aspects of the law,” said Director of the ACLU LGBT Project James Esseks. “North Carolina lawmakers should be ashamed of this backroom deal that continues to play politics with the lives of LGBT North Carolinians.”
“This fake repeal is an attempt to silence LGBT people,” said Lambda Legal Southern Regional Director Simone Bell. “It is shameful to stamp a start date on equality. We demand a full, clean repeal, and that includes comprehensive non-discrimination protections. Do not leave our community unprotected in the name of ‘compromise.’ We urge the governor to veto this bill and we encourage the NCAA to stay on the right side on history.”
The Human Rights Campaign, Equality NC, the NC NAACP and the National Center for Transgender Equality held a joint press conference this morning condemning HB 142.
Sen. Jeff Jackson voted “no” on HB 142, and proclaimed it through an email blast earlier today. Sen. Jackson argues that the bill — an effort to restore North Carolina’s reputation before the NCAA blackballs the state for six years — will not bring business back to the state because it leaves many of HB2’s qualities in place.
“I think there are major, long-term consequences to maintaining a prohibition on non-discrimination ordinances for the next four years,” Jackson wrote. “I struggle to see how this proposal changes many of those minds in light of how much of HB2 will essentially remain in effect.”
Despite the opposition, Gov. Roy Cooper signed HB 142 into law.