North Carolina rebuffs transgender
bathroom law repeal
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[December 22, 2016]
By Marti Maguire
RALEIGH, N.C. (Reuters) - North Carolina's
Republican-controlled legislature on Wednesday rejected a bid to repeal
a state law restricting bathroom access for transgender people, which
has drawn months of protests and boycotts by opponents decrying the
measure as discriminatory.
A one-day special legislative session ended abruptly after the state
Senate voted against abolishing a law that has made North Carolina the
latest U.S. battleground over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
The repeal legislation was rejected 32-16, leaving the bathroom
restrictions in place statewide. The rejection followed Republican-led
political maneuvering that tied repeal to a second provision that would
have temporarily banned cities from affirming transgender bathroom
Democratic Senator Jeff Jackson said the repeal effort failed because
Republicans reneged on their deal to bring the measure to a floor vote
with no strings attached.
The moratorium on municipal bathroom regulations, described by Jackson
as a "poison pill," withered Democratic support, and in the end all 16
Senate Democrats joined 16 Republicans in voting against repeal. Another
16 Republicans voted for it.
The Senate then adjourned without acting on the temporary municipal ban.
The state's House of Representatives had already called it quits.
Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper accused Republican leaders of
back-peddling on an agreement ironed out in lengthy negotiations. He
said both chambers had the votes for a full repeal, but divisions within
the Republican Party killed it.
"The Republican legislative leaders have broken their word to me, and
they have broken their trust with the people of North Carolina," he
Senate Republican leader Phil Berger earlier defended the proposal to
link repeal with temporary municipal restrictions as a genuine attempt
at compromise, citing "the passion and disagreement surrounding this
After the vote, outgoing Republican Governor Pat McCrory blamed
"well-funded left-wing interest groups" that he said "sabotaged
bipartisan good faith agreements for political purposes."
BACKLASH OVER BATHROOM RESTRICTIONS
Earlier in the week, McCrory had called the 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 statute, known as House Bill 2 (HB 2), have cited
traditional values and a need for public safety, while opponents called
it mean-spirited, unnecessary and a violation of civil liberties.
[to top of second column]
Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives Tim Moore (C)
confers with a colleague as the chamber convenes to consider
repealing the controversial HB2 law limiting bathroom access for
transgender people in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S. on December 21,
2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
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 business conferences and the National
Basketball Association's 2017 All-Star Game, were moved out of North
The pushback contributed to McCrory's razor-thin defeat in a fall
re-election bid against Cooper, an opponent of the law.
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.
Civil liberties and LGBT rights groups condemned the outcome,
accusing the legislature of breaking its promise to do away with HB
"It is a shame that North Carolina's General Assembly is refusing to
clean up the mess they made," said James Esseks, an American Civil
Liberties Union executive.
The North Carolina Values Coalition hailed the legislature for
upholding the law and refusing to give in to "demands of greedy
businesses, immoral sports organizations or angry mobs."
(Additional reporting by David Ingram; Writing by Letitia Stein,
Daniel Trotta and Steve Gorman; Editing by Tom Brown, G Crosse and
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