North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 142 on March 30, repealing the controversial House Bill 2, but sparking a debate as to whether this compromise was worth it.
HB2, or the “Bathroom Bill” as it was infamously called, was passed just over a year ago by former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. The bill mandated that people use public restrooms correlating with the gender declared on their birth certificates. HB2 stirred up national controversy due to its specific impact on the LGBTQIA community.
“[HB2] has stained our reputation — it has discriminated against our people, and it has caused great economic harm in many of our communities,” Cooper said at a press conference after signing HB142.
But now HB142 is facing backlash of its own.
The new law also prohibits government institutions — including the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Community College System — from regulating access to multiple occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities.
HB2 banned local non-discrimination ordinances from being passed, and though HB142 does not ban non-discrimination ordinances from being passed forever, it does prohibit them from being passed by local legislatures until 2020.
HB142 also does not amend the classes of people who can be protected by those non-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation or gender identity, something many activist groups argued was vital to preventing future inequity.
Some have refused to call the bill a repeal, instead referring to it as a compromise.
“This is not a prefect deal and it is not my preferred solution,” Cooper said. "It stops short of many things we need to do as a state. In a perfect world with a good general assembly, we would have repealed House Bill 2 fully today and added full state wide protections for LGBT North Carolinians."
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina described the new bill as a “backroom deal that uses the right of LGBT people as a bargaining chip.”
"The bill makes it illegal to protect people from discrimination. And worse still, it does so under a claimed interest in protecting “bathroom safety and privacy," Staff Attorney of ACLU LGBT & HIV Project Chase Strangio said.
Elon University sophomore and North Carolina native Talia Wahl said she is not happy with this string of events.
“I feel embarrassed to be a North Carolinian,” Wahl said. “I feel like we are going back in time instead of forward ... When I tell people I am from North Carolina, I always get asked about [HB2] because it represents our state."
Wahl said that though she understands why HB2 was written, its purpose went awry.
"I still believe Pat McCrory was trying to provide safety in the state, and I think that is a good initiative, but he ended up [targeting people],” Wahl said.
Freshman Derek Dzinich said he thought it was "ridiculous" that the HB2 battle was not completely repealed.
“Smart business decisions should appeal to conservative law makers, but so far that has not been the case ... It’s projected to cost the state 3 billion dollars over a couple year period, and it seems absolutely ridiculous that they should make a situation that is so financially compromising, but yet they continue," Dzinich said.
Last week the Associated Press reported that HB2 will end up costing North Carolina $3.76 billion in lost revenue over the course of 12 years. The NCAA has avoided North Carolina as a venue, and the NAACP has organized boycotts to prevent economic gain in the state.
Dzinich said he blamed the governor's lack of power for the situation.
"This is just an example of the weakness in the balance of powers in the North Carolina state government where the governor’s powers have been diminished compared to the legislatures,” Dzinich said.
Freshman and North Carolina resident Grace Briskman said she believes some progress has still been made.
"I think any [law] that isn't HB2 is progress," Briskman said. "However, the replacement bill does not suffice to the amount of progress I was expecting."
Briskman said she thinks HB142 was focused on saving face and income rather than transgender rights.
"It seemed to me like the replacement bill was a way to get the money back to those massive organizations that punished North Carolina for HB2 and a way to coverup the bathroom problem rather than solving the bathroom problem," Briskman said. "So although I think any replacement bill is better than HB2, it's not satisfactory."
HB124 will be up for revision again in the year 2020. State Senate leader Phil Berger said that between now and then there will be time for federal lawmakers to address LGBTQIA issues.