Despite a bipartisan agreement to get rid of it, North Carolina's controversial “bathroom bill” will remain in place for the time being.
Republicans and Democrats tried all day Wednesday to get all or parts of the law repealed, although they couldn't agree on whether to repeal it all, or parts of it — or, if the latter, which parts. The end result is a whole lot of finger-pointing and political gamesmanship.
Here's the short version of what just went down. (For a more thorough look at who did what and what it could mean, be sure to read The Post's Mark Berman and Sandhya Somashekhar):
– On Monday, the Charlotte City Council decided to repeal its ordinance that opened up restrooms and locker rooms to transgender people and gave anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people.
The nation's leading gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign, said Democrats had cut a deal with Republicans: If the city got rid of its law, the state would get rid of its law banning the city's law. Public backlash to the state law has been a huge PR problem for North Carolina, arguably costing the GOP governor his job and, according to some estimates, costing the state millions in tourism, sports events and business expansions.
(Click here for a refresher of how North Carolina became the first — and so far only — state in the nation to have a law requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender on their birth certificate. The law also prohibits municipalities from passing protections for LGBT people. In many states, people can be kicked out of a business or fired from their jobs for being gay or transgender.)
— On Wednesday, at the request of outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory (R), the GOP-dominated state legislature convened a special session to hold up its end of the bargain and consider repealing the state law.
— But not every Republican was on board with a repeal. From the Raleigh News & Observer (a must-read for its coverage of the drama):
Attempts by Republican lawmakers to short-circuit the special session began minutes after it opened Wednesday morning. Attempts to declare the session unconstitutional or to adjourn it right after opening failed.
Many Republican lawmakers still support HB2 as a stand for traditional values and protection of women and children from predators. Conservative groups prodded them to stand firm.
— Republican lawmakers also claimed Charlotte only repealed part of its law. A city spokeswoman told The Post that the council repealed the provisions GOP lawmakers had objected to in the first place (like opening up bathrooms and extending legal protections for LGBT people in public spaces). The council members thought that would be sufficient. Amid an outcry among some Republicans, on Wednesday morning, Charlotte City Council held an emergency meeting and voted to do away with every part of the law.
— It wasn't enough for some Republicans who believed Charlotte was trying to pull a fast one on them. As such, the bill that state Republicans eventually introduced wasn't a full repeal: It included a six-month ban on any city trying to pass its own anti-discrimination ordinance, like extending LGBT protections. It meant that one of the most controversial provisions of the state's law would stay in effect.
State Senate Leader Phil Berger (R) said he wanted to give the state more time to figure out how to fully repeal the law — and he indicated he wasn't happy with the fact that Charlotte didn't fully repeal its measure the first time around. Whatever good faith there was between the two sides deteriorated.
— Democrats and LGBT rights groups were outraged. Here's Chad Griffen, the head of the Human Rights Campaign:
— Lots of finger-pointing ensued for the rest of the day.
Two lawmakers on either side of the debate pretty much sum up the blame game here (via the News & Observer):
Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat, argued that the moratorium could become a permanent ban on cities’ adopting anti-discrimination measures. “It’s been said this presses the reset button,” McKissick said. “The problem is it only presses it halfway.”
Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican from Davie County, later compared Charlotte’s action to the cartoon character Lucy repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown.
“This is the worst political stunt I’ve ever seen,” Brock said angrily. “It’s a political stunt done by the now-mayor of Charlotte. … Sen. Berger is bending over backwards to work with a group that will not work.”
— No repeal, full or partial, passed the state legislature. Lawmakers ended the special session without a deal, and on Thursday morning, everyone's blaming everyone.
In the end, nothing really changed. The state has kept its law banning ordinances like the one Charlotte repealed. Transgender people in North Carolina still must use the public bathroom or locker room of the gender on their birth certificate, and municipalities like Charlotte can't pass LGBT protections.