EXPLAINER: The latest on Charlotte and HB2 and a failed compromise

EXPLAINER: The latest on Charlotte and HB2 and a failed compromise
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Everyone is sick and tired of the damage House Bill 2 — the law that undid a Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance — has wrought on the city of Charlotte and state as a whole.

The latest blow came last week, when the NCAA announced that Charlotte would no longer host the ACC Championship football game. That decision renewed discussions of a compromise of sorts that would take the law off the books. Here’s what you need to know.

Wait, what is HB2?

You must not be from around here. You can read a lot more about the background here. But here’s the TL;DR. It’ll still take four paragraphs.

Charlotte passed an ordinance that provided legal discrimination protections to the LGBT community. Part of the ordinance allowed transgender people to use restrooms of their gender expression.

The Republican-controlled state legislature immediately condemned that provision and held an emergency session to override it. The resulting legislation House Bill 2, requires people to use the bathroom of their biological sex while in public agency buildings.

Private businesses can do whatever they want with their bathrooms: Let transgender people use the restroom of their gender expression, create unisex toilets, or whatever.

The reaction has been swift and severe. Concerts have been canceled, businesses have withdrawn expansions and the biggie — the NBA All-Star Game set for 2017 has been moved.


What is the compromise that was on the table?

Basically, the state legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory promised to repeal HB2 if the Charlotte City Council first repealed its nondiscrimination ordinance. That would be a “reset” that would bring everything back to square one.

Who was in favor of it?

The Charlotte Chamber held a full-court press over the weekend to convince the City Council to take the deal. They’ve been having a heck of a time recruiting business to Charlotte while all this is going on.

[Agenda story: Totaling up the financial impact of HB2]

“We believe the solutions we have proposed would have allowed for both sides in this debate to remain true to their intentions and convictions, but would have recognized that the unintended consequences have created damage and harm that needs to be addressed,” the Chamber board said in a statement.

Why would Charlotte need to repeal its ordinance?

They don’t technically, and this is a point Charlotte Democrats continue to make. Charlotte’s ordinance is actually null and void under HB2. Partly, it’s a face-saving maneuver for the Republican majority. If they have to cave, they want Charlotte to cave, too.

But the state legislature also still really doesn’t like the bathroom provision of the Charlotte ordinance and simply repealing HB2 would leave it in place.

Republicans also repeatedly point the blame for the whole debacle at Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the City Council for passing the nondiscrimination ordinance to begin with.


Is that even true?

I mean, kind of, in a way. The city was repeatedly warned that passing the ordinance would bring about reprisal from the state legislature. And bathroom policies were not a public issue before Charlotte brought it up.

But what the world is truly mad about is House Bill 2 — not the nondiscrimination ordinance. In fact, that ordinance has been roundly praised by the business community.

I’m guessing by the headline on this piece that the deal fell apart.

Yep. Mayor Jennifer Roberts said the issue would not be considered at Monday’s council meeting and said the state should just go ahead and repeal HB2 on its own.

What’s going to end up happening?

There’s still the possibility that the City Council will take the deal in a future meeting. But chances are this is all going to end up settled by the court system. There are numerous legal challenges to House Bill 2 in the works. Likely, this will go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the meantime, prepare to lose a lot more conventions and events.

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