North Carolina Senate rejects repeal of transgender bathroom law

Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper said he reached a deal with state Republicans to repeal the law, but the GOP-controlled state Senate voted 32-16 to keep the law, known as House Bill 2, in place.

Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP
Democratic senators including Jay J. Chaudhuri, a Raleigh Democrat, center, vote not to table an amendment to Senate Bill 4 during the North Carolina General Assembly's fifth special session Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, in the Senate chambers in Raleigh, N.C.

North Carolina's Senate on Wednesday voted against repeal of a law that restricts transgender restroom access and has put the state at the center of national debate over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

The legislation to repeal the law, known as House Bill 2 (HB2), was defeated by a vote of 32-16, leaving the bathroom restrictions in place statewide.

The Republican-dominated state Senate then adjourned without voting on a second, related provision that would have temporarily banned cities from affirming transgender bathroom rights. The state's House of Representatives, also controlled by Republicans, voted earlier in the day to adjourn.

Legislators had called a special session to consider scrapping the law, which passed in March and made North Carolina the first state to bar transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity. Supporters of the law cited traditional values and a need for public safety while opponents called it mean-spirited and unnecessary.

The national backlash was swift and fierce, leading to boycotts that have been blamed for millions of dollars in economic losses for the state, as events, such as the National Basketball Association's 2017 All-Star Game, were moved out of North Carolina.

The pushback was widely cited as the reason Republican Governor Pat McCrory lost his re-election bid in November to Democrat Roy Cooper, who called for the repeal of the law.

Cooper had said he reached a deal with state Republicans to repeal the law. But Republicans eventually proposed pairing the repeal with a months-long "cooling-off period," or moratorium, in which local jurisdictions would be banned from enacting their own ordinances regulating public bathrooms, showers or changing facilities.

The moratorium died without the Senate taking any action.

HB 2 was enacted largely in response to a local measure in Charlotte that protected the rights of transgender people to use public bathrooms of their choice.

The Charlotte City Council on Monday repealed its ordinance as a prelude to the state repealing HB 2. (Writing by Letitia Stein and Daniel Trotta, additional reporting by David Ingram; editing by Bill Trott, Tom Brown and G Crosse)

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.