NC Doubles Down on Discrimination

The bait-and-switch law touted as a repeal of North Carolina’s anti-transgender HB2 is nothing but a new set of discriminatory policies targeting the LGBTQ community. While the law does repeal HB2, it also effectively bans any LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections statewide through 2020 and permanently bans cities from enacting trans-inclusive policies.

North Carolina hastily passed the discriminatory HB2 in March 2016 during a rare special legislative session, called in response to Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance protecting the LGBTQ community. The General Assembly rushed the bill through the legislative “process” in what must have been a record-setting 12 hours with little to no public testimony. This complete lack of process resulted in an unpopular law that dually violated the nondiscrimination ideals of liberals and the local-governance ideals of conservatives.

North Carolina quickly learned that discrimination has a steep price. Because of the passage of HB2, the state faced backlash from voters, businesses and public figures, other cities, and the general public. According to the AP analysis, HB2 would cost North Carolina $3.76 billion in lost revenue over a dozen years. Under threat of losing NCAA games, however, the General Assembly passed an in-name-only repeal to appease the NCAA while retaining state-sanctioned discrimination — proving that it cares far more about hosting basketball games than the safety of its citizenry.

The backlash was also felt judicially, as the Department of Justice sought to block the law and other groups filed suits. The litigation will continue despite the repeal, as the replacement policy is unconstitutional. In Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court invalidated a Colorado law blocking cities and localities from passing nondiscrimination policies to protect LGBTQ people. As North Carolina’s replacement law directly mirrors Colorado’s action, it fails to pass constitutional muster.

Instead, North Carolina, and other states considering similar legislation, should seek to protect LGBTQ citizens by passing broad nondiscrimination policies, including sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Such policies would benefit not only individual workers, but business prosperity as well. This would ensure that everyone in their state may go about their daily lives as productive citizens, free from state-sanctioned discrimination.

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