Special session called for Wednesday to repeal LGBT law

Photo Credit: WNCN

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WAVY) — Outgoing North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said Monday that he will call legislators back to the Capitol on Wednesday to repeal the law known as HB2.

The law excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from anti-discrimination protections and requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding with the sex on their birth certificate in many public buildings.

Undoing the law would be a step toward mending political divisions that remain raw well after Election Day. Just last week, lawmakers called a special session to strip Democratic Governor-elect Cooper of some authority before he takes office next month.

Monday’s surprising events began in the morning, when the Charlotte City Council voted to undo a local nondiscrimination law enacted in early 2016. That ordinance, Republicans legislators say, challenged social norms and spurred them to pass HB2.

“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 … to repeal HB2 in full,” Cooper said in a statement Monday morning. He initially said the session would be Tuesday.

McCrory said Democrats used the issue for political gain.

“This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue, originated by the political left, was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina,” said McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor.

Governor-elect Cooper made an announcement shortly after the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal its own local ordinance enacted in early 2016. It was that ordinance that Republicans blamed for the statewide law.

The repeal would be a remarkable sign of cooperation for the incoming governor and the GOP-controlled legislature. Just last week, lawmakers called a special session and stripped Cooper of some of his authority when he takes office next month.

The Charlotte council’s move is contingent on North Carolina legislators fully repealing HB2 by Dec. 31.

HB2 requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding with the sex on their birth certificate in many public buildings. It also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from statewide anti-discrimination protections.

McCrory and lawmakers have defended the bathroom provisions as providing privacy and safety by keeping men out of women’s restrooms. Opponents of the law call it discriminatory.

Since HB2 passed in March, North Carolina has suffered a backlash that has included companies declining to expand in the state and cancellations of rock concerts. The NCAA and ACC have also moved college sports events out of the state.

Progress NC Action released the following statement on Monday in response to reports that Charlotte City Council has repealed its nondiscrimination ordinance in exchange for the full repeal of HB2 by December 31:

We continue to support the full repeal of HB2, but we’ve also seen just in the past week that Sen. Berger and Speaker Moore have no intention of operating in good faith when it comes to special sessions,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. “In order to prevent this from turning into yet another partisan power grab, lawmakers must provide assurances that HB2 will be the only issue lawmakers take up — and that they will not revisit the issue in the future once HB2 is repealed.”