Editorial: HB2 repeal will come only when Berger and Moore clear the way
Posted March 1
A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, March 1, 2017; Editorial# 8130
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
Repealing House Bill 2 takes just two votes – state Senate boss Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. Once they say they’re for repeal, HB2 will be done. Rank-and-file Republicans will fall in line behind the leadership and that will be it. That is what needs to happen now.
But what does it take to get those two on board for repeal? It’s clear that the much discussed and promoted “compromise” legislation state Rep. Chuck McGrady’s pushing isn’t it.
Despite his good intentions, McGrady will likely soon discover he’s been played for a patsy by the House and Senate bosses who appear to have no appetite to repeal HB2 no matter the circumstances.
McGrady held a news conference Tuesday, featuring representatives from several key North Carolina business groups. The gathering was designed to promote his “compromise.” But what was abundantly clear was that very few, if any, of the business leaders expressed out-and-out support for McGrady’s bill.
As it stands now, the bill has more in it that is keeping different factions away, than bringing them together.
A provision allowing for local referendums to overturn nondiscrimination ordinances cities might pass is a bad idea. Voters already have an opportunity to vote out local officials if they don't like what they do. That is how our system works.
The bill includes a ridiculously low threshold – 10 percent of voters in the previous municipal election -- to get a repeal on the ballot. That would be a mere 4,200 signatures in Raleigh – a city with a 438,000 population. Such a counter-productive process only breeds more divisiveness and trouble. There will be a referendum in every city.
What was really evident at McGrady’s gathering? Unanimous support for repealing HB2. Not a repeal and replace, but find a way to repeal HB2, each speaker pleaded. They know it's not just a "bathroom bill." They all know that enshrining discrimination and bigotry in North Carolina law is a loser. It isn’t merely the impact on our economy, the law is morally wrong.
But, thanks to extreme gerrymandering, the General Assembly has become an ideological echo chamber where voices of reason are drowned out by shouts of extremism.
It is a place where absurd comments from Moore and Berger, complaining it’s always the opponents and victims of HB2 who are preventing its repeal, are inexplicably viewed as reasonable.
As the Tuesday news conference came to a close, McGrady seemed more exasperated than energized. “I’m real pragmatic about this,” he said. “I want to get this off the table. It’s sucking all the wind out of every other issue we’ve got out.”
If McGrady is as pragmatic as he contends, he needs to find 15 more Republicans in the House and 11 in the Senate to join with the Democrats – and repeal HB2. Even better than pragmatic, it is the right thing to do.
HB2 makes it legal under North Carolina law to fire someone just because they are gay and makes it legal to refuse to serve gay people in a business. Think of the lunch counter in Greensboro.
Have the clocks stopped in the Legislative Building? This is 2017, and time to get rid of HB2.