The North Carolina bathroom law known as House Bill 2 (HB2) is finally off the books in the Tar Heel State. Whether the state has gone far enough in its removal remains to be seen. North Carolina governor Roy Cooper officially signed House Bill 142 into law on Thursday, constructing a compromise that removes the state’s restriction requiring people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate. However, the new bill also prevents cities in North Carolina from passing anti-discrimination laws until 2020, which has some LGBTQ advocates outraged and claiming the bill is a betrayal.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported that the bill was passed with bipartisan support, passing the North Carolina House by a 70-48 margin and the North Carolina Senate by a count of 32-16. Cooper’s signature made good on his campaign promise to repeal House Bill 2, a promise that helped him defeat incumbent Republican governor Pat McCrory in the 2016 election despite North Carolina casting its presidential votes for Donald Trump.
The move comes with the NCAA set to make a decision on awarding future sites for its men’s basketball tournaments through 2022. College basketball’s governing body pulled first and second-round games out of Greensboro, N.C. because of House Bill 2 and instead awarded them to Greenville, S.C., depriving Greensboro and North Carolina of an estimated $3.5 million in revenue and diverting that windfall to South Carolina instead.
Charlotte is scheduled to host games in 2018, but the NCAA has warned that it would pull those games as well if the controversial law remained on the books. The men’s tournament has been played in North Carolina in 30 of the past 38 years, but the state could be locked out for six years depending on how the NCAA views the attempted repeal.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said that the repeal of House Bill 2 addressed some concerns, but not all, telling USA Today that the NCAA would review North Carolina’s changes next week before making a final decision. The Atlantic Coast Conference, which has its headquarters in Greensboro and is set to play its men’s basketball tournament in Charlotte in 2019 and Greensboro in 2020, issued a statement saying that the decision allows the conference to reopen hosting championships in North Carolina.
For his part, Cooper admitted that House Bill 142 is not perfect in his opinion and is not his preferred solution, as it offers no protections to transgender people nor allows anti-discrimination measures to be passed. However, Cooper’s ability to get a bill he liked was severely limited by the reality of the North Carolina legislature. The Republican Party controls more than 60 percent of both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly, making it a tough ask for Cooper to pass the kind of bill he wanted.
Instead, the governor had to work with the party that crafted the bill in response to Charlotte’s anti-discrimination law, resulting in a law that doesn’t do what he’d hoped but does at least restore bathroom rights to transgenders, fulfilling that promise. Now, the question is whether the repeal of House Bill 2 is enough, and the answer could reach beyond North Carolina. Texas, the host of the 2018 Final Four in San Antonio, is considering a similar bill to HB2, and the NCAA’s reaction could push the Lone Star State one way or the other, depending on the result.
What are your thoughts on the repeal of HB2? Did Cooper sell out the LGBTQ community, or did he do the best he could with essentially both hands tied behind his back? Will this bring the NCAA tournament back to North Carolina? Sound off in the comments and share this story!
By Dan Angell