Outgoing NC gov says transgender bathroom law was ‘all about politics’; schedules repeal vote

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s controversial transgender bathroom law, HB2, may be completely revealed less than a year after it took effect.

The Charlotte City Council voted on Monday to rescind its controversial “Non-Discrimination Ordinance” that allowed transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponded to their gender identity, the Council announced on Monday.

The Council apparently voted to repeal the ordinance as part of an exchange. In return, the state Legislature — which is controlled by the GOP — promised to hold a special session on Tuesday to repeal its similarly controversial House Bill 2, or “bathroom bill,” that required individuals statewide to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender identity listed on their birth certificate. The statewide ordinance had been passed in response to the Charlotte city ordinance.

“There are many issues that require a positive and collaborative relationship between the City and State. The City pledges commitment to that partnership,” the city said in a statement.

Both the outgoing governor of North Carolina and incoming governor-elect issued statements on the decision, which promised to resolve a highly contentious political dispute that had animated their own fierce gubernatorial clash.

Gov. Pat McCrory — who was narrowly defeated by Democrat Roy Cooper, and only officially conceded weeks after the election — reacted to the city’s vote by saying that he “has always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance.” McCrory’s press secretary, Graham Wilson, released a statement on behalf of the outgoing governor:

Now that the Charlotte ordinance has been repealed, the expectation of privacy in our showers, bathrooms and locker rooms is restored and protected under previous state law. Governor McCrory has always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance. But those efforts were always blocked by Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists. This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state. As promised, Governor McCrory will call a special session.”

Republican leaders in the state’s Legislature said they were open to the repeal.

Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore issued a joint statement Monday saying that they will be ready to act when outgoing Gov. McCrory calls them into a special session Tuesday. They said that they’ve been amenable for months to repealing HB2 if Charlotte acted first to undo the local anti-discrimination ordinance.

Berger and Moore say Democrats used the debate over HB2 in past months “as a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor’s race.” They also accused Cooper, a Democrat, of taking too much credit in announcing that a repeal was in the works.

Governor-elect Cooper said in his statement that GOP leaders in the state legislature “assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB-2 in full. I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB-2 will be repealed in full.”

The HB-2 bill roiled North Carolina politics ahead of the 2016 election — the U.S. Justice Department said it violated civil rights and filed a suit to challenge the measure, and the Obama administration said it should be overturned. Obama subsequently issued guidelines for schools, mandating they allow transgender students use facilities consistent with their gender identity. That got fierce backlash from multiple states.

and a series of events, businesses, and performers threatened to pull out of the state. The state’s public university system also pledged to defy the statewide ordinance.

After HB-2’s passage, musicians Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, and the bands Pearl Jam, Boston and Maroon 5 canceled concerts in the state. Those cancellations cost one major venue nearly $200,000 in ticket sales. PayPal and Deutsche Bank both said they would cancel plans to expand into the state. And the NCAA relocated several college athletic championship events for the 2016-17 season that were scheduled to take place in North Carolina.

Also, states like Connecticut banned state-sponsored travel to North Carolina in response.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press