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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
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North Carolina Democrats Seek Repeal of Anti-Gay State Law

Democrats in the North Carolina Legislature have introduced legislation that would repeal the state's controversial House Bill 2 while adding statewide protections for people in a number of categories. The bill faces a tough road ahead.

(CN) - Democrats in the North Carolina Legislature have introduced legislation that would repeal the state's controversial House Bill 2 while adding statewide protections for people in a number of categories.

However, because Republicans who supported House Bill 2 control both the state House and Senate, the proposal is expected to go nowhere.

A similar bill proposed last week in the state Senate was immediately sent to the body's rules committee, where it is widely expected to die.

The GOP-controlled legislature rushed House Bill 2 through the statehouse and onto then-Gov. Pat McCrory's desk last March after the city of Charlotte passed a local ordinance extending anti-discrimination protections to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender individuals.

The law became known as the "bathroom bill" because it prohibits people from entering bathrooms that do not match the sex on their birth certificates.

Several lawsuits followed, including one filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, contending that provision in particular is a blatant violation of the federal Civil Rights Act.

But North Carolina Republicans have stood firm, refusing to consider even modest amendments to the law.

The bill introduced Thursday would repeal House Bill 2 and extend new protections to people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as those falling into other categories, like military veterans.

The protections would ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

It would also allow transgender people to use rest rooms consistent with their gender identity. To quote the bill: “It shall not be deemed to constitute discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for a public accommodation to provide separate bathrooms or changing facilities based on gender, but a place of public accommodation shall provide access to such facilities based on a person’s gender identity."

The bill introduced Thursday immediately garnered the support of the Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina, and a sharp rebuke from North Carolina GOP chairman Dallas Woodhouse.

“It is now solely up to Gov. Cooper to create a solution that Democrats and Republicans can both respect and pass,” Woodhouse said in a written statement. “So far, he is failing at the leadership test he brought on himself.”

While Republican lawmakers can -- and are expected to block the bills in the House and Senate -- they have made overtures to the state's Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in the past week that suggest they are will to consider a compromise bill.

The Republicans insist they simply don't have the votes to repeal the bill. Cooper sees a repeal as possible if Democrats are joined by only a minority of their Republican colleagues.

The governor has yet to comment directly on the bill introduced Thursday, or on whether he supports extending the wide range of statewide protections envisioned by the proposals' sponsors.

One group that isn't remaining mum on the subject is the North Carolina Values Coalition, a group that supports House Bill 2.

"There is no justification for adding new categories creating special rights for sexual orientation and gender identity to existing laws," said Tami Fitzgerald, the group's executive director, in a written statement.

"Gov. Roy Cooper, Democrat leaders and national and state sports organizations have launched an all-out effort to leverage collegiate sports to do just that, in addition to coercing our citizens to lose their privacy and safety in bathrooms," Fitzgerald said.

Categories / Civil Rights, Government, Politics, Regional

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