Let me start by telling you exactly what I think of H.B. 2.It was an unwanted, unnecessary, unpopular, and unenforceable piece of legislation that did nothing but sully the reputation of the great state of North Carolina. While its damage has largely been measured in dollars and cents, the real costs were borne by the states LGBTQ community, further marginalized for political gain.The only good that seemed to come of it all is that it cost Pat McCrory his job, but he likely would have bumbled his way to defeat regardless.With that off my chest, I promise not to bore you with a rant about the evils of H.B. 2. Instead, I’ll bore you with a rant about the evils of North Carolina politics and the partisan bickering that got us into this mess.A quick recap: Charlotte’s liberally minded city council passes a non-discrimination ordinance that goes out of its way to protect transgender residents. The staunchly conservative N.C. General Assembly, viewing this as a provocation, retaliates by pushing H.B. 2 through in special session with McCrory’s eager pen waiting to sign it into law.H.B. 2 was introduced, passed, signed, and enacted in under 12 hours with no public input, no substantive debate, and apparently, very little thought about the consequences.What were they so afraid of? Did they fear that law enforcement would tell them it’s unenforceable? Did they fear that the legal community would question its constitutionality? Or, did they fear that living, breathing transgender individuals would tell them that it put them at risk?This is where we say goodbye to transparency. Regardless of how you felt about the content of H.B. 2, you should be angry about how little respect the process showed for constituents. A lack of transparency is a breach of trust.Now, after 12 bitter months of political posturing, H.B. 2 has been “partially repealed,” whatever that means. This time, lawmakers spent a whopping 48 hours negotiating. (Much like my 2-year old, it took the NCGA four times longer to clean up their mess than it did to make it in the first place.)So what was it that finally brought political adversaries to the table in the spirit of compromise?Public outcry here at home? Public ridicule, nationally and internationally? Bruce Springsteen cancelling shows? Lost revenue? Common sense? Common decency?Nope. None of the above. It was college basketball.In typical North Carolina fashion, the threat of fewer college basketball games brought both sides back to the table in a hurry. It took the threats of ACC and the NCAA to get the NCGA to reconsider the error of its ways.If I were one of the thousands of transgender citizens of North Carolina, I’d feel like my dignity was being bought and sold on StubHub.But at least it’s progress, right? Not really. We’re still left with the unsatisfying feeling that comes with empty compromise.While this partial repeal mostly allows people to pee in peace, it still leaves some looking over their shoulders. While the more egregious elements of H.B. 2 have softened, this falls well short of full repeal.Essentially, our lazy lawmakers chose to do just enough to satisfy the NCAA and ACC no more and no less. Rather than addressing the issues at hand in a civil and substantive manner, we hammered out a quick deal to beat a tight deadline.It’s a lose-lose situation for all but the most die-hard college basketball fan.If you’re a proponent of H.B. 2 who bought into the fairy tale that it kept our restrooms safe from nonexistent threats, you’re left feeling less safe.If you have common sense like the rest of us and oppose H.B. 2, you wonder why any part of it is still on the books.By any measure, we’re worse off now than we were before H.B. 2.Our state’s reputation has been irrevocably damaged. Our family, friends, and neighbors in the LGBTQ community feel threatened. Our political climate is as chilly as ever.But at least we have our basketball.Steve Kulp is a graphic designer and brand strategist in Carrboro.
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