North Carolina legislators deny repeal of 'anti-LGBT' bathroom law

Gov Pat McCrory called the special session on the condition that the city of Charlotte repeal its anti-discrimination law

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The Independent US

Republican legislators in North Carolina declined to repeal the controversial bathroom bill after multiple delays and private meetings between GOP lawmakers. 

The state House adjourned without voting to repeal the Public Facilities and Privacy Security act, or House Bill 2 (HB2), during a special session called by outgoing Gov Pat McCrory. Shortly after, the Senate voted down the repeal, to chants "shame" as lawmakers filed out of the chambers. 

Democrats introduced the bill to repeal HB2 Wednesday afternoon, which was met with an amendment from Republicans including a "cooling off period" – a proposal to would block municipalities from approving ordinances affecting public accommodations and access to restrooms for more than six months.

The political climate in North Carolina has reached a boiling point after GOP lawmakers voted to dramatically strip power from the Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper. Mr Cooper campaigned against the anti-LGBTQ law, and won in an election that was highly contested by Republican opposition. Protesters filled the statehouse earlier in the week, many of whom accused outgoing Gov Pat McCrory of pulling off a "legislative coup". 

The denial of HB2’s repealment – a blow to Mr Cooper – further illustrates that political turmoil

"The legislature had a chance to do the right thing for North Carolina today, and they failed," Mr Cooper tweeted following the vote.

HB2 prohibited transgender people from using the public restrooms corresponding with their gender identification. The House and Senate can still vote on the repeal, but Democrats believe the moratorium – which could be renewed every six months – could prevent cities from passing nondiscrimination laws.

“Don’t be fooled: this is not a full repeal of HB2, doubles-down on discrimination, and makes clear that NC is still closed for business,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. 

Despite criticisms from Democrats and LGBTQ advocates, Republican Sen Phil Berger still saw the vote as a step in the right direction,

“It's an opportunity for us as a state to get this right,“ he said before the session. 

Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper issued a statement on the special session after Charlotte City Council agreed to overturn a city non-discrimination ordinance. It will be the fifth special session in 2016.

“Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB2 in full,” Mr Cooper said in a statement. “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full.”

However, advocates called for a full repeal of the ordinance, after discovering the City Council vote only covered one of the three sections that limited rights of LGBTQ individuals. 

A source told WSCO that the two other parts of the ordinance remained because they didn’t pertain to HB2 specifically. Per the source, they were related to discrimination policies for passenger vehicles for hire and city contractors.

In an emergency session Wednesday morning, the council fully repealed the ordinance in a 7-2 vote. The City of Charlotte posted a statement on their Twitter account.  

“The City of Charlotte is deeply committed to protecting the rights of all people,” the statement read. 

Lt Gov Dan Forest released a statement ahead of the special session in support of HB2.

“I do not favour it’s repeal,” he wrote. “No economic, political or ideological pressure can convince me that what is wrong is right.”

​Gov McCrory,  who lost to Mr Cooper in the November election, signed HB2 into law last March. He also condemned the Mr Cooper’s call to appeal in a statement as a political move by the left. 

“This sudden reversal, with little notice after the gubernatorial election has ended,” Mr McCrory said, “sadly proves this entire issue, originated by the political left, was all about politics at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina.”

But Rep Sgro had a rebuttal to the outgoing Republican’s sentiment: “For those of you tracking, [North Carolina General Assembly] may adjourn with no action, because GOP couldn’t get votes.

“Shows once and forever who’s playing politics."