Goldsboro, N.C. — One day before the anniversary of the passage of House Bill 2, Gov. Roy Cooper is softening his call for a so-called "clean repeal" of the controversial state law on LGBT rights and transgender bathroom access.
Cooper tried to negotiate a repeal in December, even persuading the Charlotte City Council to rescind a nondiscrimination ordinance that prompted state lawmakers to adopt House Bill 2 in a one-day emergency session last March 23. But when Republican legislative leaders attached to a repeal bill a "cooling off" period that would prohibit the adoption of any local nondiscrimination ordinance for at least six months, Senate Democrats balked, and the effort was defeated.
Since then, Cooper has repeatedly called for a straight-up repeal of House Bill 2, although he did allow last month for local governments wishing to enact a nondiscrimination ordinance to provide 30 days' notice to state lawmakers.
But with the continued threat of lost jobs and the NCAA blackballing North Carolina from hosting championship events for the next six years, the governor said Wednesday he feels compelled to compromise.
"I would support a House Bill 2 repeal with a moratorium with a definite end date," Cooper told WRAL News during a stop in Wayne County. "I think it's important that we try to negotiate something."
Various House Bill 2 repeal bills have been filed in the General Assembly in the past two months, ranging from outright appeals to measures that would allow for local votes on proposed nondiscrimination ordinances.
Cooper said he supports some of the ideas but not others.
"I think it's clear that we've got to compromise," he said. "My principles have been that any compromise that gets us toward eliminating discrimination while bringing back the jobs, the sports and the events, then I'm going to be for it, and I think that a repeal with some type of short, definite moratorium would be something that I could support."
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said it's too late for him to back a repeal with a moratorium on local nondiscrimination ordinances.
"I think, unfortunately, that window is not open," Berger, R-Rockingham, said when he heard of Cooper's new stance.
LGBT advocates also are against any compromise on House Bill 2, demanding a full repeal of the law.