Lawmakers reverse small piece of HB2

Posted July 1, 2016
Updated July 2, 2016

— North Carolina lawmakers have reversed a small piece of House Bill 2 dealing with the right to sue for wrongful termination in state court, but they left intact the remainder of the controversial measure dealing with LGBT rights and the use of bathrooms by transgender individuals.

That change was inserted into House Bill 169 late Friday night as lawmakers worked to end their legislative session for the summer.

Members of the House voted 82-18 in favor of the fix. Senators voted 26-14. The measure now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory, who has sought this specific change since House Bill 2 passed in March.

"Governor McCrory is pleased the General Assembly has acted on his request and restored non-discrimination protections in state courts. This action reinstates all statewide non-discrimination protections that were previously in place," McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said in a statement.

The law was passed to kill a Charlotte ordinance that required businesses allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their choice, but it also delved into a number of areas dealing with LGBT rights.

Friday's action reverses a slice of that bill.

"This was just one of the incredible mistakes made in the passage of House Bill 2," Rep. Chris Sgro, D-Guilford, told his colleagues.

Although he embraced the fix, Sgro said that lawmakers ought to go further and reverse the entire measure.

"I am woefully embarrassed that this is the result of two-and-a-half months of conversation about the most disastrous piece of legislation in the state's history," he said.

Rep. Dan Bishop, R-Mecklenburg, insisted that Friday's measure actually did very little, saying press reports exaggerated and "widely misreported" the effect of the measure. He pointed out that a federal right of action for wrongful termination had remained. Democrats like Sgro pushed back on that notion, saying that the impact was broader than Bishop admitted.

House Bill 169 restores the state right of action to sue for wrongful termination due to age, sex, race or other forms for discrimination. However, before House Bill 2, workers had three years to sue. Under the rollback bill, workers will have only one year.

Social conservatives said they did not oppose the reversal.

"North Carolina Values Coalition is not opposed to the reported technical correction bill that intends to reinstate an individual's ability to file suit for discrimination under state law," said Tammy Fitzgerald, who heads the coalition and has been a frequent lobbyist on House Bill 2 and other social issues.

In general, Democrats and LGBT groups have said that anything short of full repeal would not be satisfactory.

"If this is the only step we take to repeal HB2 before we adjourn, it is going to cost our state hundreds of millions of dollars," Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, said.

Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, called House Bill 169 "a feeble and disingenuous attempt to repair the damage done by House Bill 2," saying in a statement that it "doesn’t come close to restoring the rights of the people in this state."

"We can’t accept this as a legitimate resolution for North Carolina, and it does little to absolve Republicans of the damage they have caused this state," Blue said.

"Protecting the safety and privacy of North Carolina families by keeping grown men out of bathrooms, shower facilities and changing rooms with women and young girls has always been our primary objective," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said. "Today’s action affirms and protects the core mission of the bathroom safety bill while answering the governor's and business community's calls."

One other HB2-related measure passed

Throughout the day, seniors lawmakers said they did not anticipate making broader changes to better known provisions of the bill. Among those provisions are requirements that government facilities require people to use the bathroom and changing room corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates, even if that person is a transgender individual.

While broader adjustments were floated throughout the week, lawmakers said none ever gained enough support to be considered.

"There was all this talk of draft legislation," House Speaker Tim Moore said Friday. "There's always legislation that gets talked about but never gets filed."

Lawmakers passed one other House Bill 2-related measure Friday. The bill, which is now on its way to McCrory's desk, would set aside $500,000 of disaster relief money to pay for litigation related to the law.

Asked if pressure from businesses such as the NBA had made a difference, Moore, R-Cleveland, acknowledge having conversations with the basketball league. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league might look to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte if the law remains on the books.

"I certainly respect the NBA and value having them here in North Carolina," Moore said. "I certainly hope the NBA will keep the All-Star game here. We want to see a healthy and strong NBA and a healthy and strong Charlotte Hornets."


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  • Roberta Rose Jul 5, 2016
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    The issue with HB2 is that there are already laws in place to protect people (both men and women) from the perverts. What this law did was promote hate and bigotry in our state when it singled out transgenders. Why is that so hard to understand???

  • Roberta Rose Jul 5, 2016
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    What medical book did you read that incorrect information from? Transgender males do NOT consider themselves lesbians. They are not attracted to women. They feel they are women trapped in a male body. It has nothing to do with who they're sexually attracted to. Educate yourself before you spew off nonsense!

  • Judy Loftin Jul 3, 2016
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    Transgendered males consider themselves lesbians. They are attracted to females. Why would anyone except transgenders want them in our bathrooms, locker rooms, and sleeping with children on field trips? Even the military says unless they have surgery (which most do not want) they cannot use the bathroom, locker rooms, or barracks of the opposite.

  • Melvin Denis Jul 3, 2016
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    Russel Chapman hit the nail on the head.

  • Clarence Hill Jul 2, 2016
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    Mr. Bloom, we all have two predestined appointments ahead of us: once to die--dead; two to be judged by God. HB-2 has nothing to do with it. We all need to get ready.

  • Ken Ackerman Jul 2, 2016
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    With or without this law, if I were able to I would have moved about three years ago. I worked 70 hours a week for 10 years as a retail store manager, got laid off, went to school and got two college degrees then worked 20 more years in a completely different industry only to get laid off then have some republicans call me a "lazy drug-addict".

  • Patrick Morningstar Jul 2, 2016
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    This bill was NEVER about transgender people entering a bathroom. Why is that so hard to understand??? You give statistics on priests and sex offenders. These are the people the bill is protecting us from!!!!! Who in their right mind would think its ok for a male to be in the a female bathroom or worse locker room? I agree, the likely hood of a TRUE transgender harming my child in the bathroom is non existent but giving unrestricted access to any pervert to my daughters locker room at school is crazy.

  • Carol Smith Jul 2, 2016
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    imposing prejudices on our ciizens is not governing.

  • Anne Havisham Jul 2, 2016
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    Mr. Starke, if this bill were truly about protecting women and children, then it would not address transgender people at all.

    I tried to locate statistics online concerning violence by transgender people and only found the high rate of violence against transgender people.

    Straight cismen (people identified as male from birth) commit the vast majority of violence against girls, boys, ciswomen, and, yes, transgender people.

  • Russell Chapman Jul 2, 2016
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    How does this law protect boys? It doesn't. Also, there are over 17,000 registered sex offenders in NC and over 2000 Catholic priests have been identified by the Vatican as having molested children. Surely you believe they shouldn't be in the restroom with your precious children. If you're going to be restrictive, then be consistent. Otherwise, you're just hateful towards someone you just don't like that's different from you.