(CN) - The North Carolina Senate on Wednesday night failed to pass a bill to repeal the state's controversial 'Bathroom Bill," a state law seen as stripping the state’s LGBT community of discrimination protections.
North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger filed a bill Wednesday that would have repealed House Bill 2, but tried to appease the most conservative Republican colleagues by including a one-line provision that placed a six-month moratorium on local ordinances regulating employment practices, public accommodations or access to restrooms.
"This is the right thing to do for our state," Berger said as he introduced the bill.
The filing of the came after hours of infighting among GOP lawmakers, many of whom fought vociferously in public session and a lengthy behind-closed-doors to uphold the law.
But the moratorium on local anti-discrimination ordinances was too much for Senate Democrats to stomach and they withheld their support for Berger's proposal.
Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat from Chapel Hill, said Berger's proposal proposal was a nonstarter, tweeting, "The deal was simple. Charlotte repeals its ordinance and we fully repeal HB2 without any strings. This bill breaks that deal."
Republicans could still have passed Berger's bill in a party line vote, but their conflict within the party proved insurmountable. The bill failed by a vote of 16-32.
Afterwards, the senators sat for several moments in absolute silence. Fifteen minutes later they took up a resolution for adjournment.
The tone of Wednesday's debate, which convened at 10 a.m. before a packed House gallery and a growing number of protesters gathering outside the Capitol, was sent by a statement issued by the North Carolina Republican Party at 1 a.m., ripping governor-elect Roy Cooper and Democrats on the Charlotte City Council, claiming "they lied directly to the people" over what in fact is supposed to be repealed today.
“The HB2 blood is now a stain soaked on their hands and theirs alone. What a dishonest, disgraceful shame by Roy Cooper and Charlotte Democrats,” the party said.
In a statement posted Wednesday morning on Twitter, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said he continues to support the controversial House Bill 2, and “[n]o economic, political or ideological pressure can convince me that what is wrong is right.”
“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 If HB2 is repealed, there will be nothing on the books to prevent another city or county to take us down this path again,” the Republican said. "The left has already publicly stated the removal of HB 2 is necessary for the rest of their agenda to move forward.
"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," Forest said.
House Bill 2, also known as the "bathroom bill," was rushed through the state legislature promptly signed into law by McCrory last spring. It was a response to the Charlotte City Council expanding anti-discrimination protections for members of the LGBT community.
House Bill 2 rescinded those protections and included a provision that said transgender individuals must use public restrooms that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificate.