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State Lawmakers Meet For Special Session To Consider HB2 Repeal

Photo: Hundreds of supporters of the controversial House Bill 2 gathered outside the state capitol building on Monday.
Jorge Valencia
Hundreds of supporters of the controversial House Bill 2 gathered outside the state capitol building in April 2016.

State lawmakers will meet today for a special legislative session to consider repealing House Bill 2, the controversial state law that requires people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate.

HB2 was passed in March in response to a Charlotte City Council ordinance that extended rights to LGBT people.

The announcement comes after the Charlotte City Council voted Monday morning to repeal a non-discrimination ordinance that prompted state lawmakers to pass HB2 in the first place. It was part of a city council meeting to consider getting rid of inactive ordinances on the books. It gives the General Assembly an ultimatum to repeal HB2 before Dec. 31, otherwise the city ordinance will go back into effect.

Related: Ongoing Coverage of House Bill 2

In a video statement, McCrory said he has always publicly advocated a repeal of the "overreaching Charlotte ordinance."

"This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election has ended sadly proves this entire issue, originated by the political left, was all about politics at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina," McCrory said. "But as I promised months ago, if the Charlotte ordinance was repealed, I would call our General Assembly into a Special Session to reconsider existing state legislation passed earlier this year. And I'm doing just that for this Wednesday."

HB2 limits protections for LGBT people by overriding Charlotte's city ordinance that allowed transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identities. The state law applies to government buildings, public schools and universities. Since its passage in March, North Carolina has been at the heart of a national debate over transgender rights, government powers and perceived safety issues.

Chris Sgro, director of Equality NC and a Democratic lawmaker from Guilford County, was among the advocates, lawmakers and businesspeople who reacted to the news Monday morning.

"What has been the problem and what is unique, is the uniquely terrible House Bill 2," Sgro said. "The Legislature made that mistake and the Legislature alone must act."

For months the state's Republican leaders said they were willing to consider repealing the law if Charlotte acted first to undo its expanded anti-discrimination ordinance. HB2 was a key issue in McCrory's election with Democrat Roy Cooper, who defeated McCrory by about 10,000 votes.

In a statement, the Charlotte City Council recognized the ongoing negative economic impact resulting from the passage of the city's non-discrimination ordinance and the state's HB2.

"The Council acknowledges that North Carolina House Bill 2 "supersede(s) and preempt(s) the City's Ordinance," read the statement. "In order to continue thriving as an inclusive community and compete for high paying jobs and world-class events, the City and the State must take action together to restore our collective reputation."

Governor-elect Roy Cooper on Monday said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) assured him that as a result of Charlotte's vote, a special session will be called to repeal HB2 in full.

"I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full," Cooper said. "Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state."

By early afternoon, Berger and Moore issued a joint statement saying they would in fact take up the repeal of the law.

“Today Roy Cooper and [Charlotte Mayor] Jennifer Roberts proved what we said was the case all along: their efforts to force men into women's bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor's race," said the joint statement. "For months, we've said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal of HB2."

HB2 has affected the state's economy since March, with plans for hundreds of new jobs abandoned, concerts canceled, and major sporting events relocated out of state. Economists estimate the fiscal damage to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

"The whole issue of gender identity is a national issue that will be resolved by the courts and the United States Justice Department," McCrory said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Elizabeth “Liz” Baier is WUNC’s Supervising Editor for Race, Class and Communities. She has two decades of experience than span print, audio, and digital reporting and editing.
Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Politics and Education. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
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