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North Carolina Passes Compromise Measure To Repeal Bathroom Bill


North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, has signed a bill that repeals and replaces a controversial law.


ROY COOPER: Today we repealed House Bill 2, and we begin to end discrimination in North Carolina. We begin to bring back jobs and sporting events. We begin to repair our reputation.

SHAPIRO: Among other things, that law had dictated which public restrooms transgender people could use. The NCAA had said it would refuse to hold championship events in North Carolina through 2022 unless the law was changed. In a few minutes, we'll hear from a transgender rights advocate in North Carolina. First let's speak with Jeff Tiberii of member station WUNC. Hi, Jeff.


SHAPIRO: What does this new replacement law do?

TIBERII: Well, the compromise measure includes three provisions. The first one is that it repeals House Bill 2, and that of course is the controversial bathroom measure that requires - or required transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate. Second, it gives the state authority over public bathrooms moving forward. We should note that this is something that had not previously been spelled out directly in state law.

And third, this compromise bans municipalities from passing any nondiscrimination ordinance on private entities until the year 2020. Those second and third provisions upset members of the LGBT community, and the first provision upset members of the religious right.

SHAPIRO: And so it sounds like nobody is fully happy with this compromise. Who does it seem like are the winners and losers in this?

TIBERII: That's interesting. It depends on who you ask and where you ask, I suppose. Democrats, including the governor, have been calling for a simple repeal. However, there simply wasn't enough support within the Republican caucus for that to happen.

There are - we should note - are a lot of legislative districts in this state that are very red. Donald Trump won North Carolina comfortably. And lawmakers from those areas - they had concerns about answering to their constituencies as well as potential political blowback - think about primary challengers - if they were to vote to rescind this measure. So lawmakers had been working for months on finding some sort of compromise, some sort of middle ground, and this deal does not please those on the progressive left or the religious right.

And repeal efforts have failed in recent weeks. There was a prominent one that failed in December after apparently a deal had been brokered. The proposals that have moved through the legislature today did not include any religious freedoms protections or provisions or possible referendums on the LGBT community. And those were things that had been discussed in recent months as part of potential compromises.

SHAPIRO: As we heard, the governor says that this begins to repair the state's reputation. How does it do that when so many elements of the original problematic law, HB2, remain in place?

TIBERII: That's unclear. It's a good question, but it's unclear at this point. Some support - they say that this is an overdue step forward - some of those supporters. And then they say it helps repair the state's image. And others are just against this. They say that it is, you know - it goes against, you know, the effort for civil rights.

This is a state that mirrors much of the country when we think about rapidly growing, progressive urban centers and these conservative, large, rural swaths of land. Many people are glad to see some sort of resolution reached on this. And this was, you know, a dark cloud of sorts, a black eye for the state that's been around for a year and a week. However, LGBT advocates and allies say that this is just coming up short when we think about civil rights.

We should remind people this all did start when the city of Charlotte passed a local ordinance. And that ordinance, among other provisions, gave protections to the LGBT community. State lawmakers said that was an overreach. They reacted, and they sent House Bill 2 through very quickly during a swift, one-day special session. North Carolina lost job expansion from PayPal and Deutsche Bank, and the NCAA and the NBA sent events and major championship events elsewhere, so there's been political and economic blowback.

SHAPIRO: That's Jeff Tiberii of member station WUNC speaking with us from the North Carolina state capital of Raleigh. Thank you very much, Jeff.

TIBERII: Thank you, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Tiberii first started posing questions to strangers after dinner at La Cantina Italiana, in Massachusetts, when he was two-years-old. Jeff grew up in Wayland, Ma., an avid fan of the Boston Celtics, and took summer vacations to Acadia National Park (ME) with his family. He graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, and moved to North Carolina in 2006. His experience with NPR member stations WAER (Syracuse), WFDD (Winston-Salem) and now WUNC, dates back 15 years.

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