North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday proposed a deal to put an end to a challenge by LGBT advocates against a law passed to replace the state’s so-called bathroom bill.
North Carolina lawmakers in March worked out a compromise to replace HB2, the controversial measure passed in March 2016 requiring, among many things, that transgender people use the restrooms in public buildings that match the sex on their birth certificates. The new law, HB142, eliminated that requirement but also said only the General Assembly, not local governments or school districts, could make rules for public restrooms and that local governments cannot enact new nondiscrimination rules for businesses until December 2020.
LGBT advocates filed suit again, claiming the new law was still discriminatory.
Wednesday’s consent decree by Cooper attempts to appease LGBT advocates by allowing transgender people to use the restrooms of their choice in public buildings of executive branch agencies, like transportation and Medicaid.
A judge will rule on the settlement. The LGBT plaintiffs said they would drop the suit if the judge approved the decree.
Also on Wednesday, Cooper issued an executive order prohibiting the departments under his control and their contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The order would affect 55,000 state employees and 3,000 vendors for up to $1.5 billion in contracts, according to the governor’s office.
Republican leaders condemned Cooper’s two-part plan as backtracking.
“Roy Cooper made a deal with the business community and the legislature to repeal HB2 and put divisive social issues that North Carolinians are sick of hearing about behind us, and his attempt to resurrect these issues shows he acted in bad faith,” said House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, both Republicans. “We trust the court will reject the governor’s latest stunt.” —K.C.