North Carolina Legislature Expected to Repeal Transgender Bathroom Law

North Carolina's Governor-elect Roy Cooper

RALEIGH, N.C.—The North Carolina legislature is expected to meet Wednesday to consider the repeal of House Bill 2, a law passed in March stating that transgender people must use the public bathroom associated with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

The special session is the result of negotiations among the liberal Charlotte City Council, Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper and the GOP-led legislature.

The Charlotte council voted unanimously Monday to repeal a February ordinance that expanded protections for transgender people, on the condition the legislature repeal HB2.

Mr. Cooper welcomed the decision to revisit the law, which has prompted companies such as  PayPal Holdings Inc. to cancel investments and sports leagues including the N.C.-based Atlantic Coast Conference to cancel tournament games that were scheduled to be held in the state.

“Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state,” Mr. Cooper said.

But Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said they had always been willing to consider repeal of HB2 if Charlotte backed down first. The GOP leaders said in a joint statement it was “dishonest and disingenuous” for Mr. Cooper to take credit.

It has been a tumultuous month politically in North Carolina. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory conceded Dec. 5 to Mr. Cooper after protesting the election results for nearly a month.

Last week, the legislature held a special session and passed laws that curtail the new governor’s authority by taking away his control of the election board and limiting his ability to hire throughout state government, from the universities to cabinet posts to other positions.

HB2 has been the dominant political issue in the state since it was passed. Only 32% of voters approved of the law, according to an August survey by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling of Raleigh.

Mr. McCrory championed HB2 on the campaign trail and in his TV ads. His advisers say his stance on HB2 hurt him in the state’s biggest cities, as he lost by more than 100,000 votes in both his home base of Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, and Raleigh in Wake County. He narrowly carried both counties in 2012.

Mr. McCrory said in a Monday video statement that it was clear Charlotte should have acted sooner to repeal its LGBT ordinance, which he said was ginned up by the political left to affect the gubernatorial race. “This entire issue…was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina,” Mr. McCrory said.

Chris Sgro, a Democratic state representative and the executive director of LGBT-rights group Equality NC, confirmed that the Charlotte City Council agreed to repeal the city’s ordinance, but the move was contingent upon the state legislature repealing HB2.

“Charlotte’s ordinance has never been the problem,” but the state’s transgender bathroom law “is a unique disaster for North Carolina,” he said. Mr. Sgro declined to say if he supported the deal.

 

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