Republican leaders in the North Carolina state legislature announced on Wednesday night that they had reached a deal with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to repeal the anti-LGBT law known as HB2.
However, both progressive and conservative groups are unhappy with the compromise, leaving the future of the deal uncertain. Lawmakers are expected to begin voting on the bill Thursday morning.
The law enacted last year prompted a backlash from businesses and resulted in several sports leagues refusing to hold championship events in the state. This has put pressure on lawmakers to repeal the controversial law, but several past attempts to come to an agreement have failed. Now, with a new ultimatum from the NCAA, lawmakers scrambled this week to put together a new deal.
House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, both Republicans, announced the deal in a brief press conference Wednesday night and said they would vote on the bill Thursday.
“Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy,” they said in a statement announcing the bill.
Cooper later released a statement expressing support for the legislation, though he indicated the bill was not his ideal compromise.
“I support the House Bill 2 repeal compromise that will be introduced tomorrow. It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation,” the governor said in a statement.
The bill would repeal HB2, but would give the state power to regulate public bathrooms, including those run by state universities and local boards of education, and would continue to prohibit new local ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination through 2020.
The repeal deal left progressive groups unsatisfied. The Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina urged lawmakers to reject the compromise.
“The rumored HB2 ‘deal’ does nothing more than double-down on discrimination and would ensure North Carolina remains the worst state in the nation for LGBTQ people,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The consequences of this hateful law will only continue without full repeal of HB2. Sellouts cave under pressure. Leaders fight for what’s right.”
“North Carolinians want a clean repeal of HB2, and we urge our allies not to sell us out,” Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro said in a statement. “Those who stand for equality and with LGBTQ people are standing strong against these antics. We’ve got less than 24 hours before the NCAA deadline. There is no time to waste – our leaders must fight for what’s right, and that is full repeal.”
Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, called the bill “a cynical ploy that will continue to hurt North Carolina and transgender people.”
“Passing this bill would mean that North Carolina continues to be one of the very few states where it’s illegal for cities to protect the rights of their residents. It pushes aside real North Carolinians in favor of political expediency,” Keisling said in a statement. “It’s time for North Carolina’s political leaders to get their act together and remember who they’re working for – the North Carolinian public. After all, Gov. Cooper ran his campaign on fully repealing HB 2 and protecting transgender North Carolinians. It is an outrageous betrayal that he supports this fake repeal.”
Conservatives also urged Republicans to reject the deal with Cooper. The NC Values Coalition, a conservative group that supports HB2, called on lawmakers to vote against the bill.
“This repeal of HB2 will not solve anything,” the group said in a statement, according to the Charlotte Observer. “It will never be good public policy to allow men into women’s and little girl’s bathrooms and showers. HB2 guarantees that won’t happen, and it provides reasonable accommodation for a small minority of transgender people.”