Charlotte repeals trans bathroom protection ahead of North Carolina’s expected HB2 reversal

On Monday morning, the city of Charlotte, North Carolina repealed its transgender bathroom ordinance that required businesses to allow individuals to use whatever bathroom corresponded to their gender identity. The anti-discrimination ordinance is the one that led to North Carolina’s statewide Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (known as HB2) that says all state laws override any local laws and required transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificate.

The repeal of the Charlotte ordinance is contingent on the state repealing HB2 before Dec. 31. So, if the state doesn’t repeal HB2 overall, the city’s repeal of its anti-discrimination law won’t be valid, according to the ordinance that was unanimously approved by the Charlotte City Council. Mayor Jennifer Roberts said in a statement Monday morning that the repeal of the city ordinance “should in no way be viewed as a compromise of our principles or commitment to non-discrimination,” The Charlotte Observer reports.

The move comes after Republican lawmakers promised to repeal HB2 if Charlotte repealed the ordinance, but previously the City Council couldn’t decide on whether or not to repeal the law in deference to the state legislature. A special session has been called for Tuesday to repeal HB2 in its entirety by both Governor-elect Roy Cooper and Governor Pat McCrory.

It’s a weird fight. If the state repeals HB2 because of a deal made between city and state officials, Charlotte technically could reinstate the anti-discrimination ordinance, since the state doesn’t have any protections for transgender people, only to reignite the same fight. But will it? The city released a statement saying, “There are many issues that require a positive and collaborative relationship between the City and State. The City pledges commitment to that partnership.”

Meanwhile, Governor McCrory pledges to repeal HB2 on Tuesday, but issued a statement implying that Charlotte has been playing politics. “Governor McCrory has always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance. But those efforts were always blocked by Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists,” Press Secretary Graham Wilson said in a statement. “This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state. As promised, Governor McCrory will call a special session.”

Incoming Democratic Governor Cooper’s win over McCory wasn’t even confirmed until about a month after the election, and McCrory passed legislation last week that would limit his successor’s powers. So, who’s playing politics with whom is up for debate.

Don’t get it twisted, though. North Carolina’s repeal of HB2 has little to do with LGBTQ protections and everything to do with making up for lost jobs and federal funding for universities that came as a result of the discriminatory law. The state lost an estimated $400 million because of the bathroom bill. For state lawmakers, it’s about bringing business back into the state, even if that means allowing transgender people their civil rights.

It’s indicative of the kind of world we’re living in that an anti-discriminatory law has to be repealed so a discriminatory law can be trashed. A dumpster fire that continues to burn, basically.