RALEIGH Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced Friday that he is willing to call the N.C. General Assembly back into a special session if the Charlotte City Council repeals its ordinance that triggered the controversial House Bill 2.”For the last nine months, the governor has consistently said state legislation is only needed if the Charlotte ordinance remains in place,” said Josh Ellis, communications director for McCrory. “If the Charlotte City Council totally repeals the ordinance and then we can confirm there is support to repeal among the majority of state lawmakers in the House and Senate, the governor will call a special session. It is the governor’s understanding that legislative leaders and the lieutenant governor agree with that assessment.”Several versions of a compromise deal have been in the works, some offered by lawmakers, others by lobbyists including the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, who said they are working to stem what they say is collateral damage to the tourism industry in the wake of the law.The announcement comes after the Atlantic Coast Conference followed the NCAA in announcing it would move 10 college sports championships from North Carolina in protest of the controversial House Bill 2 law. On Monday the NCAA announced it would relocate seven championship sporting events. The decision sparked outrage and accusations of playing politics ahead of the November gubernatorial election.”This is 100 percent about the North Carolina governor’s race, and the out-of-state forces trying to decide it for N.C. voters,” said one insider close to the issue. “The NCAA hasn’t made a single decision that costs them a dime. They have no skin in the game and the only ones hurt are the student-athletes and the fans. It’s all political posturing.”The H.B. 2 measure, enacted in March after McCrory called a special session of the General Assembly to override Charlotte’s ordinance, requires individuals to use bathrooms in government buildings that correspond with the biological sex listed on their birth certificate if a gender-neutral “family” bathroom is not available. In N.C. the sex listed on a birth certificate can be changed with a notarized statement from a doctor who performs reassignment surgery. The law also bars local governments from enacting local anti-discrimination ordinances more stringent than state law. It was passed after the Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance that made any differentiation in sexes in public accommodations illegal in the city.Over the weekend, Gov. Pat McCrory eliminated one of the many lawsuits on the matter by issuing a “voluntary dismissal without prejudice” to the United States Department of Justice. The dismissal removes a duplicative lawsuit to streamline the process and lower the State’s legal fees.The case, McCrory v. United States of America, was a surprise suit brought by the McCrory administration in reaction to Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s ultimatum issued in early May 2016 to avoid enforcing the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, or face the loss of Title IX funds. Lynch also claimed the controversial law was in violation of the Civil Rights Act.”This action will consolidate the State’s efforts in the courts,” said McCrory Communications Director, Josh Ellis. “The remaining cases are well underway in the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina.”Ruckus gives rise to the rightN.C. faced criticism for passing H.B. 2, overshadowing the Republican Party’s primary campaign messages of lower taxes and touting the state as one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation. However, as backlash continued from the left, a poll from the right-leaning Civitas Institute indicates that McCrory may be getting a boost out of H.B. 2 among staunch Republicans. The poll finds McCrory with a two-point lead on his challenger, Democrat Attorney General Roy Cooper.McCrory led North Carolina to join 21 other states in filing a complaint with the U.S. Supreme Court claiming that President Barack Obama’s policy expanding Title IX protections to include gender identity is government overreach without the legislative process.”The issue of redefining gender and basic norms of privacy will be resolved in the near future in the United States court system for not only North Carolina, but the entire nation,” said McCrory in a statement released Wednesday. On Thursday, Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrote an open letter to the commissioner of the ACC, John Swofford.”While I recognize this legislation and legislation like it in other states is complicated by society’s continued blurring of the lines of gender and sexual identity, I also recognize the profound hypocrisy of the ACC, the NCAA and other companies and organizations who are making calculated business decisions disguised as moral outrage,” said Graham.Title IXThe ACC and NCAA’s decisions surrounding H.B. 2 contain a larger issue. According to legal experts, the organizations may be setting themselves up for future courtroom battles. If the groups will no longer host events in N.C. because of H.B. 2, according to House Speaker Pro Temp Paul Stam (R-Wake), there are 28 other states with similar laws. If the ACC eliminates those states as well, lawmakers have suggested the group’s tax-exempt status could be challenged if they are making financial decisions to influence state laws and elections.Among the reasons the NCAA gave for pulling the games is that H.B. 2 “has the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender on one’s birth certificate, regardless of gender identity.” The governor’s office was quick to point out the ways in which this common misconception about H.B. 2 is wrong. The McCrory administration asserts that by design H.B. 2 only applies to government-owned buildings with multi-stalled bathrooms and changing facilities in them. Private businesses and venues can implement any facilities policy they want. The biggest single impact of the law is on public schools, where the majority of users are under 18.The NCAA’s decision has led to questions on whether the association plans to adopt all of the Obama directive regarding Title IX recognition of transgender and gender identity in sports. NCAA policy currently requires that those wishing to compete on a gender specific team other than that on their birth certificate have a diagnosis of gender disphoria or be in treatment with hormones for reassignment, a bar higher than that of simply “identifying” as an opposite gender. In the current NCAA policy, males identifying as females cannot play on female-only teams unless the team reclassifies as “mixed” or the athlete undergoes one year of testosterone suppressants. Females identifying as males can play on male-only teams.”NCAA rules state that a male participating in competition on a female team makes the team a ‘mixed team.’ The mixed team can be used for sports sponsorship numbers … and counts toward the mixed/men’s team minimums within the membership sports-sponsorship requirements,” the policy states. “Such a team is ineligible for a women’s NCAA championship but is eligible for a men’s NCAA championship. A female on a men’s team does not impact sports sponsorship in the application of the rule. The team still counts toward the mixed/men’s numbers. Such a team is eligible for a men’s NCAA championship.”It also would create problems for their substance policies because the hormones required for gender transitions are among those banned in athletes. The NCAA, however, does have an appeals process to allow testosterone or testosterone-suppressing drugs to be approved. Sorting out those details will take time and legal wrangling if the NCAA adopts the White House policy.For now, the ACC decision will affect 10 championships in soccer, football, swimming and diving, basketball, tennis, golf and baseball that were to be held at neutral sites across North Carolina. The NCAA decision will affect seven games. New locations for the events have not been announced.The NCGOP deemed the NCAA’s action hypocritical. “Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking and instead focus their energies on making sure our nation’s collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field,” said North Carolina Republican Party spokeswoman Kami Mueller.While legislators and lobby groups work behind the scenes to find a compromise, the Charlotte City Council is scheduled to meet on Monday to cover zoning issues, but as of press time the controversial ordinance is not listed on the agenda.
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