North Carolina lawmakers passed what LGBT advocates called “the worst anti-LGBT legislation in the nation,” on Wednesday.
GOP leadership in the House and Senate referred to House Bill 2 as “common sense” legislation on multiple occasions during the discussion of the bill. The legislation was passed in special session after the Charlotte City Council voted to extend the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include transgender individuals.
The piece of the ordinance that drew the most negative attention stemmed from the fact that the bill would allow members of the transgender community to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. Some felt that would open doors for sexual predators to say they had the right to be in the bathroom of the opposite sex. Most hypothetical scenarios laid out by lawmakers included a situation involving an adult male entering a bathroom or locker room full of young girls.
Democratic Senator Dan Blue said scare tactics brought about the special session from the General Assembly.
“We’re here because, I think, that we’ve played on fears of the citizenry unjustly and unfairly,” Blue said.
Republican Senator Buck Newton had a different interpretation of why the special session was called.
“The City Council of Charlotte lost their mind and decided to embark upon a very radical course and a new, I guess you would call it an ordinance,” Newton said.
Newton added Charlotte leaders had no legal standing for extending the nondiscrimination ordinance.
“The City Council of Charlotte, the majority anyway,” Newton said, “decided that they would bow to the altar of radical political correctness.”
During debate on the House floor it was brought up that more than 200 cities across the country have ordinances similar to what Charlotte leaders put in place, and those cities had very few or no issues with what North Carolina Republican leadership described.
The bill passed the House with an 83-24 margin.
The bill then went to the Senate for debate. During which, the aforementioned Dan Blue said that because the views of Democrats were not solicited or listened to during the writing of the bill and because this would infringe on the rights of municipalities to govern themselves, Senate Democrats would not participate in the vote.
“We’re not participating in this effort that you make to roll back the clock in this state, to take away powers from local governments,” Blue said.
All Democratic Senators then left the Senate chamber and the bill passed 32-0.
In addition to repealing the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance and other ordinances around the state that had similar pieces, the bill removes any power that local and county governments have to adopt living wage ordinances.
Similar bills were recently defeated in Tennessee and South Dakota over fears the legislation would cost the states hundreds of millions of dollars in Title IX funding.
Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper was referenced several times by Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, who said if the Attorney General had “done his job” and filed an injunction after Charlotte leadership passed the ordinance, there would have been no need for this legislation.
Cooper, who won the Democratic nomination for Governor and will challenge incumbent Pat McCrory in November, released a video while the bill was being discussed opposing the legislation.
Cooper said called it “shameful” that North Carolina is “putting discrimination into the law.”
Governor McCrory signed the legislation into law on Wednesday night, according to a statement from his press office.
Several members of the business community voiced opposition to the bill on Wednesday.
— Jim Whitehurst (@JWhitehurst) March 23, 2016
— Biogen (@biogen) March 23, 2016
— Dow Public Policy (@DowPolicy) March 23, 2016
Headed to NC in May to discuss how we could invest more in the state. Now the key words will be "could've invested." https://t.co/kTMLo3lB0U
— Chris Sacca (@sacca) March 23, 2016