Four Democratic lawmakers in North Carolina’s House of Representatives on Monday introduced a measure to repeal the state’s controversial House Bill 2, otherwise known as the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which prohibits transgender people from using the bathroom in accordance with their gender identities.
The bill, known as House Bill 946, would undo HB 2 in its entirety and appropriate $545,407 to the state’s Human Relations Commission, an office within the Department of Administration that enforces equal opportunities in employment, housing, public accommodations, recreation, education, justice, and governmental services. It was filed by Reps. Darren Jackson, Graig Meyer, Susi Hamilton and Grier Martin, who said in a press conference Monday morning that “HB2 goes against everything I know about my fellow North Carolinians.”
Outside the general assembly Monday, hundreds of HB 2 supporters and opponents rallied to mark the return of the state legislature for the first time since it passed the so-called “bathroom law” last month during a special session. A coalition of organizations opposed to HB 2 delivered 185,000 signatures calling for the law to be overturned, according to the Charlotte Observer. Supporters of the measure, meanwhile, gathered for a packed concert and rally on the Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh.
Since it was hastily passed and signed into law last month, HB 2 has been the focus of a growing national backlash against the Tar Heel State, with numerous celebrities, businesses and sports organizations calling for the law’s repeal. Proponents insist HB 2 is necessary to protect the privacy and safety of people (usually young girls) from potential predators in the bathroom. Yet critics say the law hurts the LGBT community by nullifying all local nondiscrimination ordinances that offered protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, while also requiring people to use government building bathrooms in line with the sex listed on their birth certificates. For most people, that regulation poses no problem. But for transgender people, whose expressed or experienced gender differs from the sex listed on their birth certificates, it forces them to use the bathroom that conflicts with their identity.
On Friday, President Obama said HB 2 was “wrong and should be overturned.” He joins a chorus of critics that includes Bruce Springsteen, PayPal and the NBA, to name a few. Still, most lawmakers in North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature appear unwilling to support a repeal. According to a recent survey conducted by the Associated Press and a number of local North Carolina newspapers, only 41 of 168 lawmakers in the general assembly expressed a desire to overturn the law. Many lawmakers, chose not to respond to the survey at all.