WASHINGTON - A deal to repeal North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill,” which limited LGBT access to facilities, fell apart late Wednesday as Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature clashed over the measure’s provisions.
Legislators then adjourned a special session called to consider the issue, leaving the law still in place.
A repeal measure put forward by state Senate Republicans Wednesday would have included a six-month moratorium on any local government that wants to “enact or amend an ordinance regulating employment practices or regulating public accommodations or access to restrooms, showers or changing facilities.”
Democrats argued the measure was only a partial repeal, because the moratorium could be renewed repeatedly, essentially making it impossible for cities to pass nondiscrimination laws.
“This wasn’t the deal,’’ Democratic state Senator Jeff Jackson said.
What is HB2?
In March, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed the law, commonly referred to as the bathroom bill. A wide-ranging bill, it’s most known for banning individuals from using public bathrooms, such as in schools or government buildings, that do not correspond with their biological sex, as dictated by their birth certificates.
It also bars cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect gay and transgender people.
The state pushed through HB2 after the city of Charlotte passed a nondiscrimination ordinance in February that allowed transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.
North Carolina’s Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper said on Monday that lawmakers were to meet in a special legislative session to repeal the controversial measure that triggered a social and economic backlash against the southern U.S. state, costing it millions of dollars in tourism, sports and entertainment revenue.
“Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state,” Cooper said.
Citing the right to privacy, outgoing North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has staunchly defended the law, which largely impacts transgender people.
Backlash and lawsuits
However, HB2 has been blasted by gay rights groups. The backlash against the law resulted in job losses and sporting event cancellations for the state.
The bathroom measure led to lawsuits against the state, including in May by the Obama administration, which sued the state, saying the law breaks federal anti-discrimination laws.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the law is “state-sponsored discrimination” that reminds her of a time when blacks were barred from public facilities and states could dictate who was allowed to marry.
The gay advocacy groups Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina said in a statement, “It’s time for state lawmakers to repeal HB2 and begin repairing the harm this bill has done to people and the damage it has done to North Carolina’s reputation and economy.”