A deal that North Carolina lawmakers reached to repeal the state's controversial and costly "bathroom bill" cleared the state's legislature Thursday after contentious debate, but the compromise has left LGBTQ advocates exasperated - with some calling it "shameful" and an "outrageous betrayal".
"It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you vote for this bill, you are not a friend of the LGBT community", Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro said. Only a complete repeal, with nothing else, will do, they say. "Instead, they're reinforcing the worst aspects of the law", said James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT Project.
The stakes are high for North Carolina: The Associated Press calculated that the state made $71.4 million from 28 neutral-site NCAA events in the five academic years ending last spring. "It is something that I think satisfies some people, dissatisfied some people, but I think it's a good thing for North Carolina".
Enormous outcry to unsafe new version of #HB2 in NC.
The compromise approved by lawmakers today repeals HB2 but leaves regulation of multi-occupancy facilities to the state.
"Perhaps it would be appropriate if we would commemorate the passage of this bill by inviting the governor to come down to the building today and lowering those two flags [the USA and North Carolina flags outside the Legislative Building] and putting up in their place a flag of a certain intercollegiate athletic association and a white flag", said Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham.
Republican legislative leaders in North Carolina and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper say they have an agreement to end the state's "bathroom bill" that they hope removes any obstacles to expanding businesses and attracting sporting events. The announcement came days after the National Collegiate Athletic Association said it would not award the state hosting duties for its championship events through 2022 without changes to the law.
That may have put pressure on North Carolina's politicians to hammer out this week's deal. "In passing House Bill 2, they wrote discrimination into the law, and did untold damage to our state's economy and reputation".
In a statement Wednesday, Cooper said the bill is "not a flawless deal", but it repeals the controversial bill and "begins to fix our reputation".
The "deal" boxes LGBTQ people out of non-discrimination protections at the local level in a state that has no statewide protections. "It has discriminated against our people and it has caused great economic harm in many of our communities", Cooper said, according to CNN. We demand a full, clean repeal, and that includes comprehensive non-discrimination protections.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina released a statement Thursday morning criticizing the compromise, saying it "uses the rights of LGBT people as a bargaining chip". It also prohibited cities and towns from enacting anti-discrimination laws, or laws protecting workers (which is completely unrelated, but still awful).
The three-part proposal would repeal the law known as House Bill 2. "Lawmakers must vote against this proposal, and should it reach his desk, Governor Cooper should withdraw his support and veto it".
"For years, a reckless supermajority of Republicans in the General Assembly has imposed their extreme vision on North Carolina".
Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue of Raleigh and Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican, asked the Senate to approve the compromise.