In a shocking and sudden move, the Charlotte City Council has repealed the nondiscrimination ordinance providing protections for transgender people, in exchange for what Mayor Jennifer Roberts calls a promise from the legislature to fully repeal HB 2 by the end of this year. From The Charlotte Observer:
It also appears that Governor-elect Roy Cooper, who ran against HB 2, had some influence on the decision:
Mayor Jennifer Roberts said this is the first concrete opportunity to repeal HB2. The law, which limits LGBT rights, has been cited as the reason for millions in lost economic development and boycotts by the NCAA and others.
There was no advance notice that the ordinance would be discussed. WBTV, the Observer’s news partner, was the first to report it.
There is no indication that there is, or isn’t, a quid pro quo with the General Assembly. There have been an attempts to broker a compromise in which the city would rescind the ordinance passed earlier this year that extends non-discrimination protections for members of the LGBT community and the legislature would repeal HB2.
Per Cooper’s statement:
In response, here’s Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Republican leader Phil Berger’s statement:
“Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore 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 I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full.
“Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”
“Today Roy Cooper and 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. For months, we’ve said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal of HB2. But Roy Cooper is not telling the truth about the legislature committing to call itself into session – we’ve always said that was Gov. McCrory’s decision, and if he calls us back, we will be prepared to act. For Cooper to say otherwise is a dishonest and disingenuous attempt to take credit.”
Here’s Charlotte’s statement:
The next special session—the fifth this year—is planned for tomorrow, according to Cooper. The ordinance (per Mark Binker at WRAL) contains a clause that renders the ordinance invalid if the legislature doesn’t repeal HB 2 by the end of the year.
The N&O’s Lynn Bonner reports that Governor McCrory has called the special session.
The ACLU and Lambda Legal have released a statement.
“H.B. 2 was an unprecedented attack on the LGBT community, in particular against transgender people, and we are encouraged that its days are numbered,” said Sarah Gillooly, Policy Director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “It is imperative that the General Assembly hold up their end of the deal and repeal H.B. 2 in full without delay. This will be an important step for North Carolinians to move forward, but it never should have come at the cost of protections for LGBT people living in Charlotte.”
“LGBT rights aren’t a bargaining chip. Charlotte shouldn’t have had to repeal its ordinance in exchange for H.B. 2 to be repealed,” said Simone Bell, the Southern Regional Director for Lambda Legal. “LGBT people in North Carolina still need protection from discrimination. The right action is for the North Carolina legislature to pass a statewide comprehensive civil rights bill that includes full protections for LGBT people.”
Durham council member Charlie Reece has some thoughts on all of this, and indicates that Durham could pass an ordinance similar to Charlotte’s if HB 2 is repealed in full.
Given what happened at the special sessions last week, it’s also not clear if Republicans will use the opportunity to further strip power away from Cooper, the North Carolina Supreme Court, or Attorney General-elect Josh Stein. It’s also not clear what the parameters are; the General Assembly could, technically, repeal HB 2 and then immediately pass another bill similar in nature.
The special session has been called for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 21.
This is a developing story, check back here for updates.