RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper and Democratic legislative leaders Tuesday announced a three-part compromise proposal to repeal North Carolina’s House Bill 2, but Republican leaders say the plan fails to address privacy concerns.
The plan has three parts, which would require the GOP-controlled General Assembly to repeal House Bill 2; add tougher penalties against those committing assaults in bathrooms and dressing rooms; and force local governments to give a 30-day notice before they can adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Cooper talked about bringing back basketball tournaments and jobs. The NCAA and the ACC moved neutral-site tournaments out of North Carolina after the General Assembly passed the bill. The NBA, citing the law, also moved its all-star game out of Charlotte.
A spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, quickly criticized the plan.
“This proposal does nothing to address the basic privacy concerns of women and young girls who do not feel comfortable using the bathroom, undressing, and showering in the presence of men, and as we saw in Charlotte last year, it does not require an assault to make a woman feel violated,” Amy Auth, Berger’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.
House Bill 2, the Public Facilities & Privacy Act, was approved during a special one-day session of the General Assembly on March 23, 2016. It was signed into law by then-GOP Gov. Pat McCrory later that day. The bill was in response to an anti-discrimination ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council which included a provision allowing transgender people to use public bathrooms that matched their gender identity.
A series of lawsuits followed. Proponents of H.B. 2 said the law protected public safety and privacy and reinforced the legislature’s authority over local governments; opponents of the law, including the Obama administration, said the rights of transgender people were protected under federal civil-rights law.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week took initial steps that could eventually end the federal lawsuit challenging H.B. 2.
Cooper was asked twice during the press conference his view of allowing the use of restrooms by people who were born of a different gender. He didn’t answer the question directly either time.
“I believe that local governments should decide this issue, and I believe that we need to repeal House Bill 2 because of the harm that it has caused the people and our economy, and this proposal does both of those things,” Cooper said.
As for the privacy concerns, Cooper said, his proposal would protect all kinds of people in public restrooms and dressing rooms and sends a strong signal that the state is not going to tolerate these crimes.
“That’s one of the reasons why I think that they should be for this.”
Blue called the proposed compromise a “careful, measured action,” adding that he generally has concerns about toughening many penalties. “I’ve seen incarcerations misused and overused enough in my career that I do not typically support harsher penalties,” Blue said. “However, in order to get a compromise on House Bill 2, I will urge the Senate Democrats to support this proposal, and I believe that they will.”
“We have been working and searching every day for a solution to House Bill 2 that will bring back both sports and businesses,” Jackson said, saying he believes this compromise will work.