NC Lawmakers Cave on Principle in Face of NCAA Threat

(Paul Chesser, Liberty Headlines) Following a late-night deal Wednesday brokered between the Republican leaders of the North Carolina House and Senate, and Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, state lawmakers voted Thursday to adopt a repeal of controversial House Bill 2, which was instigated by a threat from the NCAA to withhold sports championships from the state for the next 5 years.

NC Lawmakers Want NCAA, ACC Investigated by IRS for Political Activity

Photo by bionicteaching (CC)

However, the replacement for HB2 does not meet the standards that the NCAA said it would require in order to reinstate its competitions in North Carolina.

The measure eliminates the year-old law that protected privacy in both public and private multiple-occupancy restrooms, showers and changing areas, yet reinstates similar language from HB2 that prohibits local governments and institutions from regulating those facilities. The measure forbids local governments from enacting or amending ordinances that would regulate private employment practices or public accommodations until December 1, 2020.

The NCAA reportedly had imposed a deadline of today that stipulated if North Carolina did not repeal HB2, then it would not award any bids for sports tournaments to the state through the year 2022. The Atlantic Coast Conference has applied similar pressure on the state that hosts its headquarters.

According to USA Today, the replacement for HB2 falls short on key points of what the NCAA said prevented the continuation of events in North Carolina, including:

  • the prohibition against local laws that treat sexual orientation as a protected class
  • the requirement that individuals use restrooms according to the gender they are identified by on their birth certificates
  • alleged legal protections for some government officials to refuse services to LGBTs
  • that some states, such as New York and Minnesota, have their own boycotts against public officials’ travel to North Carolina

The “repeal” did not pacify angry, aggressive pro-LGBT groups either.

“After more than a year of inaction, today North Carolina lawmakers doubled-down on discrimination,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “This new law does not repeal HB2. Instead, it institutes a statewide prohibition on equality by banning non-discrimination protections across North Carolina and fuels the flames of anti-transgender hate. Each and every lawmaker who supported this bill has betrayed the LGBTQ community.”

HRC also called NC lawmakers and Gov. Cooper — whom they worked so hard to elect over incumbent Pat McCrory — as “sell outs.”

The passage of the new House Bill 142 kicks the can down the road until after North Carolina’s next election for governor, when Cooper will presumably be up for re-election in November 2020. Lawmakers who agreed to support the deal claimed the reason for the de facto moratorium on local ordinances was to give the U.S. Supreme Court time to render a decision on the issue of where so-called transgenders should be able to use restrooms and locker rooms.

“This bill is at best a punt,” said state Sen. Dan Bishop in debate over the repeal. “At worst it is a betrayal of principle.” Bishop is a Charlotte attorney who was primary author of HB2 last year, when he was a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives.

But advocates said it was necessary to move the state away from pariah status.

“This is a significant compromise from all sides on an issue that has been discussed and discussed and discussed in North Carolina for a long period of time,” said Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who directly negotiated the deal with the House and Cooper. “It is something that I think satisfies some people, dissatisfied some people, but I think it’s a good thing for North Carolina.”

Conservatives who strongly defended HB2 were not pleased.

“”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 U.S. 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 Republican Rep. Bert Jones.