North Carolina, the first battleground of the bathroom war, may finally have found some grounds for a truce. After several days of negotiation between the Republican legislative majority and new Democratic governor Roy Cooper, the controversial House Bill 2 law will get repealed, and just within a deadline from the NCAA on championship venue awards. However, it’s not a return to the status quo ante, but the status quo ante ante, so to speak:
North Carolina lawmakers could repeal House Bill 2 on Thursday under a deal struck late Wednesday night by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislative leaders. …
According to a statement from Berger and Moore, the bill would:
▪ Repeal HB2.
▪ Leave bathroom regulation to the state, essentially returning to the status quo before Charlotte passed a 2016 ordinance allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their gender identity.
▪ Enact a moratorium on similar ordinances until Dec. 1, 2020.
Readers will recall that the Republican-controlled state government passed HB2 in reaction to the city of Charlotte’s attempts to regulate bathroom access. Despite the above description, Charlotte’s city government had mandated that all public bathrooms, including those in private businesses, allow for transgender choice of access, a mandate to which many business owners objected. The state legislature passed HB2 and then-governor Pat McCrory signed it in part to reverse Charlotte’s action on transgender access, but also in part to create a uniform application of bathroom-access regulation. Under HB2, businesses could still have decided on their own to implement a more progressive access policy, but government did not force them to do so.
Ever since, transgender activists have conducted an effective public-relations campaign against the state to reverse the law to the post-Charlotte status quo ante. Instead, they’re getting the pre-Charlotte status quo ante, along with state control over bathroom access regulation for at least the next three-plus years. If that sounds like a bad deal for the activists well … they certainly agree:
“The rumored HB2 ‘deal’ does nothing more than double-down on discrimination and would ensure North Carolina remains the worst state in the nation for LGBTQ people,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The consequences of this hateful law will only continue without full repeal of HB2. Sellouts cave under pressure. Leaders fight for what’s right.”
This is a full repeal in terms of the conditions set out for bathroom access, but it retains state-level jurisdiction on regulation for that issue. This is an important distinction; it does not preclude private businesses from adopting their own bathroom access policies, nor did HB2, for that matter. The language does seem to suggest that other levels and branches of government may not have that same flexibility over their own facilities while this act is in force, however, including state-run university and college campuses. That might not pass muster with the NCAA.
The repeal compromise hasn’t passed yet, but Cooper has already announced his support. That should be enough to push it through the legislature and into law, but they’re all on the clock. The NCAA deadline comes at noon ET today, and it will take a rapid effort to effect the repeal, as CBS’ local affiliate explains: