North Carolina lawmakers to vote on repeal of transgender bathroom law

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 30, 2017 9:29 AM

By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - North Carolina legislators were set to vote on Thursday on a deal to repeal a law prohibiting transgender people from using restrooms in accordance with their gender identities, a measure that has prompted boycotts by companies and sports leagues.

Republican legislative leaders said late on Wednesday that they had reached a compromise with Democratic Governor Roy Cooper to scrap the year-old law, the only one of its kind in the United States. The announcement came days after the National Collegiate Athletic Association said it would not award the state hosting duties for its championship events through 2022 without changes to the law.

The three-part proposal would repeal the law known as House Bill 2. However, new provisions would still ban local municipalities, schools and others from regulating bathroom access. The deal also blocks cities from offering their own job and restroom protections to vulnerable groups for nearly four years.

It was not clear whether the changes going before the Republican-controlled legislature would be enough to convince the NCAA and other sports leagues and companies to end boycotts of North Carolina in protest of the law. Advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people said the new version would allow discrimination to continue.

“Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy,” the state's top Republican lawmakers, Senate leader Phil Berger and House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore, said in a statement.

The pair announced the deal at an impromptu news conference after days of negotiation between lawmakers and the governor. As recently as Tuesday, elected leaders had remained at an impasse.

Cooper, a staunch opponent of the bathroom law who took office in January, said the compromise was a step in the right direction.

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"It's not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation," said Cooper, who earlier this week noted the current law could end up costing the state nearly $4 billion.

Several leading LGBT activists decried the new deal's provisions and called on Democrats to reject it. They said the compromise would continue to target transgender people.

“Lawmakers must reject this disgraceful backroom deal that uses the rights of LGBT people as a bargaining chip,” said Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)