North Carolina Legislators Introduce Bill to Replace HB 2 with Full Non-Discrimination Protections

Bill is companion to bills already filed that would repeal HB 2 in its entirety.

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Yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organisation, commended North Carolina Representatives Chris Sgro, Pricey Harrison, Susan Fisher, and Kelly Alexander for introducing a comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination bill in the North Carolina General Assembly.  This bill would be a companion to HB 946, sponsored by Representatives Jackson, Meyer, Hamilton and G. Martin, and SB 784, sponsored by Senators Van Duyn, J. Jackson, and Woodard.

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“Rather than wasting taxpayer dollars defending an indefensible attempt to defy federal civil rights laws, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly should repeal HB2 and replace it with this common sense LGBT non-discrimination bill,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “This bill is an important step forward that would ensure that everyone, including LGBT people, can live free from fear of discrimination.”

“We have always known, and come to understand even more urgently during the HB 2 debate, the incredible need for non-discrimination protections for LGBT and other North Carolinians,” said Representative Chris Sgro, one of the sponsors of the legislation. “This bill, along with the repeal of HB 2, is the important next step that this General Assembly and Governor McCrory must take in order to make North Carolina a true state of equality and help heal our national reputation.”

The non-discrimination bill introduced today comes after Gov. Pat McCrory said on Fox News’ “On the Record” that he did not believe that companies should be able to fire someone because of who they are or whom they love. Not only does North Carolina lack such explicit statewide LGBT non-discrimination protections, but among other things, HB 2 also eliminated the ability of North Carolinians to be able to sue if they experienced discrimination in the workforce, including on the basis of race, religion, national origin and sex.

Monday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, the state’s Department of Public Safety, and the University of North Carolina and Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.  The Justice Department had previously put Governor McCrory and state officials on notice last week saying North Carolina’s discriminatory HB 2 violates federal civil rights law — including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 — and asked them to address the situation “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.” But in response to that notice, Gov. McCrory announced he is filing a lawsuit in an attempt to recklessly defend his discriminatory law. Senator Berger & Speaker Moore also filed their own lawsuit.

North Carolina has already lost more than a half billion dollars — and counting — in economic activity just from companies canceling or reconsidering plans to come to the state, and in cancelled conventions, concerts, and other lost tourism dollars. That doesn’t even include potential economic development that now just won’t happen in North Carolina because of McCrory’s radical law, or the potential catastrophic loss of federal funding for schools, roads, bridges, and other essential services.

Lawmakers passed HB 2 in a hurried, single-day session, and McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night. Since then, nearly 200 leading CEOs and major business leaders have signed onto HRC and Equality NC’s open letter urging McCrory and the state’s General Assembly to repeal HB 2.

HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal education funding alone at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, convention centres, and airports.

Photo By John P Salvatore [CC0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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