Attempt to Repeal North Carolina’s Transgender Bathroom Law Fails in Special Session

By Barbara Hollingsworth | December 22, 2016 | 2:36pm EST
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (left), Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (center), and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (right) confer during Dec. 21, 2016 special session. (AP photo)

(  -- An attempt to repeal North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law during Wednesday’s special daylong session of the state legislature failed, and state lawmakers headed home for Christmas with the controversial law still on the books.

After nine hours of debate, the state Senate voted down a bill introduced by the chamber’s top Republican to repeal the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (HB2).

HB2 requires that all individuals use restrooms in schools and other public facilities that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates. The law was passed in March, a month after the City of Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing transgenders to use the bathroom of their choice instead of one that corresponds to their biological sex.

The repeal bill was killed by pro-HB2 Senate Republicans and Democrats who opposed it because it included a “cooling-off period” in which local governments were prohibited from passing regulations or ordinances regarding “public accommodations or access to restrooms, showers, or changing facilities”.

The House did not vote on the legislation, so the General Assembly adjourned until January 11th.

“I’m disappointed that we did not remove the stain on our great state,” Governor-elect Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said after brokering a deal with the Republican-led legislature to repeal HB2 if the City of Charlotte, whose transgender bathroom ordinance triggered the law’s passage, repealed its ordinance first.

On Monday, the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal its transgender bathroom ordinance based on an expectation that the legislature would follow suit by repealing HB2.

But the deal fell apart, leaving both sides pointing fingers at the other.

Cooper’s fellow Democrats in the state Senate said they feared that the “cooling off” period in the repeal bill, initially six months but later amended to the end of the 2017 legislative session, would be extended indefinitely.

“The GOP has broken its promise,” tweeted state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg). “Their bill includes a 6-month ban on new ordinances. That wasn’t the deal.”

However, Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), accused Cooper and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts of operating “in bad faith by passing a secret, partial repeal [of the Charlotte ordinance] in a closed-door meeting”.

“Republicans gave the Democrats a clean up or down vote on repealing HB2 in its entirety. All 16 Democrats voted no,” Berger pointed out.

Their action proves they only wanted a repeal in order to force radical social engineering and shared bathrooms across North Carolina, at the expense of our state’s families, our reputation, and our economy.”

“The legislature had a chance to do the right thing for North Carolina today, and they failed,” Cooper tweeted on Wednesday after the repeal effort failed.

“No economic, political or ideological pressure can convince me that what is wrong is right," countered Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in a statement. "It will always be wrong for men to have access to women's showers and bathrooms.

“If HB2 is repealed, there will be nothing on the books to prevent another city or county to take us down this path again….

“The names will change, but the national groups who are pushing this agenda will not stop until their social engineering is accomplished. The only thing stopping them are those of us who continue to stand strong.”

HB2 triggered a national backlash against North Carolina. The NBA moved its All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans, and corporations like PayPal and Deutsche Bank protested by backing out of planned expansion projects in the state.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said that the North Carolina legislature’s failure to repeal “the hateful HB2 law… will continue the significant harm done to the state’s reputation and economy.”

But NC Family Policy Council President John Rustin said that repeal would “represent a significant betrayal of the citizens of North Carolina who deeply care about the privacy and safety of women and children in our state.”

Related: PayPal, Apple, Coca-Cola Reject N.C. ‘Bathroom’ Law But Do Business Where Gay Sex and Cross-Dressing Are Illegal

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