Barringer calls for HB2 repeal, faces criticism from re-election opponent
Posted September 13
Updated September 14
Raleigh, N.C. — State Sen. Tamara Barringer, R-Wake, told WRAL News Tuesday night that she became the first Republican lawmaker to call for the "substantial and immediate" repeal of House Bill 2 due to the measure's "unintended consequences," which have played out over the past six months.
"I did not realize the consequences of this bill, that it would have worldwide consequences, and they just keep piling up," Barringer said. "So, at this point, I'm willing to stand up and say, 'Let's put the brakes on it. Let's get together and find a common solution that we call can live with and move forward.'"
Lawmakers called a special session in March to pass House Bill 2 in response to a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom conforming with their gender identity. House Bill 2 reversed that ordinance and went further, implementing a statewide nondiscrimination law that excludes LGBT individuals from protections.
Reaction to the measure has drawn vocal criticism from individuals and businesses nationwide. The latest of the consequences that Barringer spoke of came this week, when the NCAA announced it would withdraw seven college championship series from the state. Barringer's district includes Cary, which expects to lose about $2 million in economic activity as a result fo the NCAA's move.
She said it was not the lone reasons for her decision.
"It was just one more of those unintended consequences," Barringer said. "Again, it's reflecting wrong on the people of North Carolina. We are a people that have been together. We're a people of innovation. We're a people of inclusivity, not exclusivity. It's giving the world, it's giving the rest of the country, the wrong idea about North Carolina."
Barringer's position puts her at odds with virtually every other Republican lawmaker and statewide elected official. Although a handful of Democratic lawmakers supported the bill, most Democrats have raised objections, and many have made repeal a central part of their campaigns.
Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican seeking election to a second term, has vocally defended the bill and has criticized his Democratic rival, Attorney General Roy Cooper, for not doing more to protect the legislation from challenge by the federal government.
Barringer also faces re-election. Her state Senate district covers Wake County's southwestern corner, a suburban swath of territory that juts up to Interstate 400 in Raleigh and, in many respects, is far less socially conservative than the state's rural counties.
Susan Evans, Barringer's Democratic rival, accused the Republican of changing positions based on political expedience rather than any profound change of heart.
"A vote is a vote. When she voted for HB2 in March, Sen. Barringer knew what she was doing," said Dustin Ingalls, Evans' campaign manager. "Only now that she's in danger of losing her seat does she waffle. Her latest change of mind is certainly not a change of heart. It's a purely political move designed to make voters forget that she is responsible for the loss of jobs and millions of dollars in economic investment in her district."
Barringer insisted it has been the constant drumbeat of opprobrium rather than political considerations that moved her to speak out.
"This is not a political issue, it's a public policy issue," Barringer said.
Asked whether other Republicans were likely to join her, she said, "I have not talked to leadership, and I've not talked to other Republicans. But I do hope that they will listen because this is important. It's important to North Carolina, it's important to our citizens. We need to fix this, work this out and move forward."