After the Charlotte City Council set in motion a deal to repeal the North Carolina anti-LGBT law known as HB2 by repealing the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, progressive groups offered cautious support for the agreement.
Groups supporting LGBT rights quickly called on Republican legislators to follow through with their end of the deal and repeal the controversial anti-gay law. But LGBT advocates stopped short of declaring victory, expressing concern that Republican lawmakers may not follow through with repeal and dismay that repeal might only come after a reversal in Charlotte.
Progress NC Action on Monday supported the decision and called for HB2 to be repealed, but expressed some skepticism that the legislature would follow through.
Logan Smith, the communications director for Progress NC Action, told TPM that the Republican leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly “can’t be trusted when it comes to these special sessions,” noting that legislators used a special session last week to pass provisions dramatically curbing the incoming governor’s power.
“I would be very hesitant on any kind of compromise without definitive assurances from legislative Republicans that, number one, HB2 is the only issue that they will pick up in this special session, and number two, that they won’t just pass the exact same thing down the road,” Smith told TPM. “It would just be incredibly dishonest if they tried to pass another so-called bathroom law.”
“I’m all for a full repeal of HB2 if that’s what this results in, but we’ve learned the hard way many times that Sen. Berger and Speaker Moore rarely, if ever, operate in good faith,” he added.
Smith also said he was concerned that the deal was “contingent on Charlotte repealing its ordinance.” And he noted that after Republican state lawmakers in September proposed repealing HB2 on the condition that Charlotte repeal its ordinance, one Republican legislator said that the compromise may not have eliminated the provision in the law banning transgender people from using the public bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
Simone Bell, the southern regional director for Lambda Legal, told TPM that while the group supports the deal to repeal HB2, she is disappointed that the deal was necessary to prompt a repeal.
“I know that they’re taking steps that are necessary to try to get the repeal of HB2,” Bell said, referring to the Charlotte City Council. “I think that it is unfortunate, though, that the bargaining chip is rights for LGBT people.”
“I’m concerned that it has to be done at the risk of LGBT people’s rights. I think there’s still a lot that remains to be seen from the state legislature,” Bell added.
Equality NC released a statement calling for the North Carolina legislature to repeal HB2 but emphasized that the Charlotte ordinance was never an issue.
“The problem has never been Charlotte. Charlotte’s ordinance was a best practice employed in hundreds of cities across the country,” Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro said in a statement. “The Charlotte City Council and mayor did the right thing by passing their ordinance — HB2 is wrong. Since its passage, the deeply discriminatory HB2 has hurt our economy and people. Now, the General Assembly must fully repeal HB2 so that we can start the necessary talks for protecting LGBTQ people and bring back businesses across the state. We look forward to working with Governor-elect Cooper to win protections community by community and statewide.”