The GOP-dominated state legislature in North Carolina failed to repeal the “bathroom bill”—HB2—which requires use of public restrooms and locker rooms based on biological sex rather than gender identity, even though the Charlotte City Council, reportedly as part of a deal, voted to repeal part of its anti-discrimination ordinance prohibiting discrimination in the use of restroom/locker room facilities on the basis of gender identity.
Passage of the Charlotte ordinance triggered state Republicans to pass HB2, leading to a national outcry by LGBT advocates and their corporate allies, who announced various boycotts.
Many GOP legislators were pushed hard by religious right activists to maintain HB2 without revision. On the other hand, some supported a compromise that would have repealed the state law but also put in place what the Washington Post described as “a six-month moratorium on cities passing nondiscrimination ordinances to protect gay and transgender people.” The Washington Times described it as “an amendment that would have prohibited local municipalities from permitting opposite-sex restroom access until a long-term, statewide compromise could be reached—an add-on that helped kill the repeal bill.”
Democratic legislators, following pressure from activists, rejected that compromise, even though their votes, with enough willing Republicans, would have been able to put across a repeal measure containing the amendment.
“It’s clear today that the GOP leadership’s cruelty towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and particularly transgender North Carolinians knows no bounds,” an overheated Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “For our part, we will continue to fight to defeat all of HB2 and protect North Carolinians no matter what it takes.” In other words, no compromise.
There was distrust all round:
North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican, said the unwillingness to accept the amendment on the part of Senate Democrats is evidence that Charlotte would have reneged on the compromise and reintroduced its ordinance after the repeal.
A six-month cooling off period doesn’t seem so unreasonable. But as I’ve said before (because it’s true), a great many LGBT-rights activists and social conservative activists have an interest in not settling culture war issues, thereby maintaining the enraged polarization that is so good for partisan political mobilization and fundraising.