N.C. lawmakers slated to vote on H.B. 2 repeal deal Thursday morning

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
Legislators from left: Senate Pro-Tem Phil Berger

RALEIGH — State lawmakers are gathering in Raleigh Thursday morning, scheduled to vote on a deal to repeal the state’s controversial law that requires individuals to use the multi-stalled restroom that corresponds with their sex when in state-owned buildings.The compromise, reached with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, would still ban local municipalities, schools and others from regulating bathroom access in government buildings and the private sector. It comes after at least two prior compromise deals were reportedly scuttled by the governor. One of the most recent was proposed by Sen. Leader Phil Berger in December and repealed H.B. 2 with a six-month moratorium on ordinances like Charlotte’s that started the battle. “I think the Democrats passed up a bad deal in December for a worse deal now,” said protester Michael Eisenberg, joining a demonstration outside the Executive Mansion Thursday morning.The pair announced the deal at an impromptu news conference, giving credit to Cooper fo. The compromise does the following:
Repeals House Bill 2
leaves regulation of multi-occupancy facilities to the state
implements a temporary moratorium on local ordinances similar to Charlotte’s, until Dec. 1, 2020, allowing lawsuits to make their way through the courtsallows local governments to issue their own anti-discrimination ordinances as long as they are consistent with federal employment and accommodation anti-discrimination laws.”We believe the four points in Gov. Cooper’s compromise proposal represent a path forward by repealing House Bill 2, protecting citizens’ privacy in bathrooms and changing rooms, authorizing local governments to adopt anti-discrimination ordinances consistent with federal law, and providing legal protections for violations of constitutional rights of conscience,” said Berger and Moore in a statement. “We believe if the governor can get Democratic legislators to support the principles outlined in his proposal, we can pass a bipartisan bill that will put the distraction of HB2 behind us once and for all.” The compromise with Cooper, a staunch opponent of the bathroom law, was reportedly reached hours before the NCAA was set to determine the locations of sports championships through 2024.The college athletic association is one of the organizations to boycott North Carolina in the wake of the law’s passage last year as a response to a Charlotte city ordinance that banned sex-specific bathrooms in public accommodations, a category that includes private businesses that are open to the public, such as restaurants and gas stations.Cooper said he supported the compromise. “It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation.”But it remained unclear whether the compromise would be acceptable to those who believe the state was unfriendly to the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.In an impassioned news conference before the deal was announced, several leading LGBT activists decried its provisions, including the bar on municipalities regulating employment practices and “public accommodations.””This is a dirty deal,” said Chad Griffin, political strategist and president of the Human Rights Campaign, headquartered in California. Griffin has made a career of fighting the Defense of Marriage Act and worked for Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on fundraising and public policy. He vowed to continue fighting the law in court and in the public sphere if the new measure passes and is signed by Cooper.
Repeals HB2;Guarantees privacy in bathrooms and shower facilities by leaving regulation of multi-occupancy facilities to the state, returning to the status quo prior to passage of Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance that women and girls should not have to share bathrooms with men;Authorizes local governments to pass employment and accommodation non-discrimination ordinances, provided they are consistent with federal employment and accommodation non-discrimination law; andProtects the rights of conscience by allowing citizens to collect court costs and attorney fees if they successfully pursue legal action proving a violation of their constitutional rights, as protected by Article I Section 13 of the North Carolina Constitution and the First Amendment.