Week in Review — North Carolina Doubles Down on LGBT Discrimination

April 1, 2017 • 10:44 am

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers in North Carolina took action this week to tweak the discriminatory HB 2 law ahead of an NCAA deadline, which could see the state losing out on championship events through 2022. Unfortunately, the so-called compromise contains many discriminatory provisions, including one that bans local officials from passing their own nondiscrimination protections through 2020. The measure also prohibits municipalities from ever protecting transgender people from discrimination in public restrooms.

Local and national LGBT groups, businesses and other allies quickly united against the measure – and are urging the NCAA to reject the new law.

“This measure does not represent a meaningful attempt to help hardworking North Carolinians who have been hurt by the economic losses HB 2 has wrought on the state. It does not represent a meaningful attempt to right the shameful discrimination that HB 2 codified, or improve the safety and well-being of the transgender people this law singled out,” said Matt McTighe, Freedom for All Americans’ executive director. “If lawmakers were serious about addressing the fundamental problems of this law, they would pursue a full and clean repeal of HB 2 – full stop. The NCAA should reject anything that allows discrimination to flourish in North Carolina.”

You can learn more about the unacceptable HB 2 compromise, and other top nondiscrimination news in FFAA’s Week in Review:

Georgia

The 2017 legislative session wrapped up in Georgia this week, and no anti-LGBT legislation made it through the legislature. This is a historic marker for Georgia – for the last four years, local, state, and national advocates have had to wage fierce battles to defend the rights of LGBT Georgians.

A record five pieces of legislation were introduced to address the very real problem of LGBT discrimination in the state. This batch of legislation included bipartisan support for a study committee that would examine nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. This is momentous progress for a state that, just one year ago, was staring down the threat of national boycotts and economic backlash because of the HB 757 License to Discriminate legislation – which GOP Governor Nathan Deal ultimately vetoed.

Some anti-LGBT animus did surface late in the session, however. After anti-LGBT “poison pill” amendments were added to legislation meant to update the state’s adoption laws, LGBT advocates teamed up with child welfare experts in a concerted push to save the legislation by removing the discriminatory sections and passing a clean bill. While the House moved a clean version of the bill as an amendment to other legislation, a small group of senators refused to budge – and held the bill hostage with the discriminatory amendments attached. As a result, the session came to a close without any movement on this urgently needed adoption legislation.

Montana

In an 11-7 vote, the Republican-controlled Montana House Judiciary Committee blocked a bill calling for a statewide ballot initiative that would have prohibited transgender individuals from using the restroom that matches their gender identity. If passed, House Bill 609 would have also allowed citizens to sue businesses and entities that do not prohibit transgender individuals from using the restroom that matches the gender they live as everyday. The defeat of this discriminatory measure was the result of a broad, bipartisan coalition of Montanans, including the head of Republican Gov. Steve Bullock’s Office of Economic Development.

North Carolina

Lawmakers in North Carolina embraced discrimination this week, hastily passing a measure – signed by Governor Roy Cooper – that claims to repeal HB 2, but keeps the most objectionable pieces of the discriminatory law in place. The unacceptable new law bans municipalities from protecting transgender people from discrimination in restrooms, and even puts an unprecedented moratorium on municipalities advancing their own nondiscrimination protections through 2020.

Lawmakers pushed through the revised measure hours ahead of a deadline from the NCAA to either repeal HB 2, or risk losing all future championship events through 2022. The so-called compromise bill represents a complete abdication of Governor Roy Cooper’s campaign promises to repeal HB 2. Voters sent Pat McCrory packing because of his support for the discriminatory law.

Now, Freedom for All Americans is calling on the NCAA to hold firm on their stated values of fairness and inclusivity, and reject this bad deal. Last year, the state lost millions of dollars in revenue when the NCAA pulled seven championship events out of the state because of HB 2. The NCAA has said that HB 2 harmed the ability of local communities “to assure a safe, healthy, discrimination free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events.” Nothing in the legislation thrown together in the North Carolina General Assembly earlier this week addresses any of HB 2’s fundamental problems.

Tennessee

Tennessee legislators stopped two discriminatory measures from becoming law this week. The unconstitutional Senate Bill 752/House Bill 892, which seeks to outlaw same-sex marriage in the state, was rolled over into the 2018 calendar. Lawmakers blocked another measure, HB 888/SB 771. The legislation would have prohibited transgender students from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.

Opponents of discrimination are not out the woods yet. Next week, a House panel is set to debate to SB 127/HB 54. This bill seeks to grant public businesses a license to discriminate against LGBT customers, and is opposed by the state’s business community.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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