CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN/WBTV) – Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday called for a special session to be held Wednesday to repeal House Bill 2.
Governor-elect Roy Cooper said HB2 will be repealed in full during a special session Tuesday, but McCrory — in a video release that accused his opposition of political gamesmanship — called the session for Wednesday.
Cooper and McCrory’s statements came after the Charlotte City Council voted on a measure Monday to repeal its controversial non-discrimination ordinance, commonly known as the ‘bathroom’ ordinance.
The ordinance was pushed through the council in early 2016, just months into Mayor Jennifer Roberts’ tenure, and required businesses to allow people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.
In response, Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly convened a one-day special session to pass its own legislation that rendered Charlotte’s ordinance null.
“The bill that passed the Legislature would have never passed had Charlotte not done what they did first,” said N.C. Republican party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse.
The special session legislation, known as House Bill 2, required individuals to use the restroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate in public facilities. That law remains in effect, despite months of turmoil and controversy since its passage.
The Charlotte City Council met Monday morning where they voted unanimously on the measure to repeal the “bathroom” ordinance.
The council’s repeal measure requires the legislature to repeal HB2 by December 31 or its ordinance would stand.
Cooper said Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore told him a special session will be called to repeal HB2 in full.
“I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full,” Cooper said.
Berger and Moore both released a statement that said “Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts proved what we said was the case all along: their efforts to force men into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor’s race.”
In contrast to Cooper’s statement concerning a special session, the Republican leaders said it’s McCrory’s decision, not Coopers.
“But Roy Cooper is not telling the truth about the legislature committing to call itself into session – we’ve always said that was Gov. McCrory’s decision, and if he calls us back, we will be prepared to act. For Cooper to say otherwise is a dishonest and disingenuous attempt to take credit.”
McCrory’s office released a statement following Monday’s rapid changes.
“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,” said McCrory spokesman Graham Wilson. “This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state. As promised, Governor McCrory will call a special session.”
The Charlotte council had previously considered repealing its ordinance.
The council last discussed — behind closed doors — the prospect of repealing its ordinance as part of a deal pitched by legislative Republicans in September. Under that deal, Republicans pledged to repeal HB2 if the city’s ordinance was repealed.
That deal ultimately fell apart because the council never voted on repealing its ordinance.
Previously, outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory has said the city’s repeal of its ordinance should trigger the repeal of HB2.
The ACC, NBA and NCAA all pulled events from the state citing HB2.
Following its passing, entertainers like Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam canceled scheduled concerts in North Carolina to protest the law.
Chris Brook is legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina and has been involved in the lawsuit aiming to have House Bill 2 struck down.
He says his office gets calls frequently from LGBT people facing discrimination.
“The easiest thing to do would be for the Legislature to adopt statewide protections that are fully inclusive of the LGBT community,” Brook said.
Devin Lentz, a transgender woman living in Raleigh, said she doubts that will happen, but expects cities to act.
“We’ll probably see something like the Charlotte ordinance happen a few months down the road, but it might not be (in) Charlotte this time. It could be Durham, or Raleigh perhaps,” Lentz said.
That could potentially set up a new fight.
“It’s not like the Legislature ever wanted this fight. It was Charlotte who picked it,” Woodhouse said.