North Carolina governor calls special session to repeal HB2 law

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DURHAM, NC - MAY 11:  A gender neutral sign is posted outside a bathrooms at Oval Park Grill on May 11, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 (HB2) that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use.  (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

A gender neutral sign was posted outside a bathroom at Oval Park Grill in Durham, North Carolina in May. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

North Carolina lawmakers will meet this week to repeal the state’s controversial transgender bathroom law, Governor-elect Roy Cooper said.

Cooper, a Democrat, said the state legislature would convene a special session on Tuesday on the law, known as HB2, after the Charlotte City Council voted unanimously on Monday to strike down a local ordinance that gave rise to the state bill.

Cooper lobbied to repeal the state law, personally calling members of the council on Sunday evening.

“Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB2 in full,” Cooper said in a statement. “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full.”

But after the Charlotte City Council’s vote, outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said he would call a special session of the state legislature on Wednesday to consider repealing the law.

McCrory — who conceded to Cooper earlier this month after a contentious election and lengthy recount — signed the law last March. Supporters argued that the law protects women and children from sexual offenders claiming transgender identity and using women’s facilities. Critics say the bill was an assault on LGBT rights.

House Bill 2 does not recognize gender identity and requires people to use bathrooms equal to the gender identity on their birth certificates in government-run buildings. The state legislature passed the law in response to Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance.

“Governor McCrory has always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance. But those efforts were always blocked by Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper, and other Democratic activists,” the governor’s office said in a statement on Monday.

McCrory also blamed Democrats for the timing, saying HB2 opponents were seeking to score political points by pushing to repealing the bill now.

The Charlotte City Council considered symbolically repealing the bill in May and again in September, but rejected both measures. Critics including the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBT supporters pushed back, arguing that a symbolic appeal wasn’t enough.

The Charlotte City Council issued a statement saying the “ongoing negative economic impact” of HB2 played a part in its decision to remove the local ordinance. The city also called on state legislators to real the state bill.

The bill sparked controversy, boycotts of major sports and entertainment events and a drop off in jobs in the state for nine months, leading to tens of millions of dollars lost in tax revenue.

“In order to continue thriving as an inclusive community and compete for high paying jobs and world-class events, the City and State must take action together to restore our collective reputation,” the city council’s statement said.

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