North Carolina’s General Assembly rushed through a bill on Wednesday that will prevent cities and counties from creating their own anti-discrimination ordinances, in response to Charlotte passing an ordinance that would protect LGBT community members from being discriminated against, according to Buzzfeed.
The bill, HB2, passed in a special session and was approved 83-25 in the North Caroliana’s House and 32-0 in the Senate, according to the Huffington Post. Reports claim all of North Carolina’s Senate Democrats walked out on the vote.
The Charlotte ordinance, which was meant to take effect on April 1, would have let transgender citizens use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, ABC reports. It also would have provided certain housing protections for LGBT community members and would prevent businesses from discriminating against LGBT people. If HB2 is signed by North Carolina’s governor, that ordinance will be nullified.
The opposition to Charlotte’s ordinance claimed it would have let men prey on women and girls in bathrooms, which is an argument that has been outside of North Carolina. There is no evidence of a threat like this in places where nondiscrimination bills have been passed.
“This bill essentially repeals 50 years of non-discrimination efforts and gives lawmakers in Raleigh unprecedented control over our city and local governments,” North Carolina Senate Democrat Dan Blue said in a statement. “North Carolina Republicans want to pass what would potentially be the single most discriminatory act in the country. This is a direct affront to equality, civil rights, and local autonomy.”
Outside of North Carolina’s state government stopping cities and counties from passing their own discrimination laws, HB2 further lays out its own rules in regards to LGBT concerns.
North Carolina’s bill mandates that all public restrooms and locker rooms are restricted to one sex, unless they are single occupancy. This rule specifies people will go to restrooms and locker rooms based on their biological sex, not their gender identity.
Another rule dictates all cities and counties in North Carolina must make sure school restrooms follow the same guidelines for separating people by their biological sex.
North Carolina’s bill says any rules set by the state override rules laid out by city and county governments.
“It’s common sense — biological men should not me be in women’s showers, locker rooms and bathrooms,” North Carolina GOP Rep. Dean Arp said before the vote.
The cost of the special session was $42,000-a-day, and it was rushed to precede the initiation of Charlotte’s ordinance.
North Carolina lawmakers have been successful in convincing the public that these laws are about who gets to go in what bathroom, despite the fact these laws contain many other protections for members of the LGBT community. The same tactic was used in Houston, Texas, when opponents of these kinds of protections took down a law very similar to what was coming to Charlotte.
Beyond the LGBT community, the North Carolina bill will actually affect the veteran community if it becomes law. The North Carolina counties of Greensboro and Orange County have ordinances that prevent people from being discriminated against for being veterans or current members of the military. This law would get rid of those protections.
Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, who’s running for governor, called today’s vote “shameful.” The current governor of North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory, has not indicated if he will be signing the bill or vetoing it.
The local North Carolina station WNCN has reported Gov. McCrory is expected to sign the bill.
“Rather than expand nondiscrimination laws to protect all North Carolinians, the General Assembly instead spent $42,000 to rush through an extreme bill that undoes all local nondiscrimination laws and specifically excludes gay and transgender people from legal protections,” Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina, told WNCN.
[Photo by Sarah D. Davis/Getty Images]