"HB2 Treated Us As Something Less Than Human"

Dec 20, 2016

Credit Jeremy Loeb WCQS

North Carolina’s controversial House Bill Two is expected to be repealed tomorrow by the General Assembly.  The move comes after the city of Charlotte repealed a non-discrimination ordinance that initially spurred state lawmakers to pass House Bill Two.  The law makes transgender people use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate, and not the one with which they currently identify.

Tina Madison White is happy but not quite celebrating the expected end of House Bill Two.  The Asheville resident and soon to be executive director of the Blue Ridge Pride Center says the law treated her and other transgender people as “something less than human.”

“That law in theory required that I had to carry identity papers if I wanted to use a public facility.  The idea that a class of people has to carry identity papers does not have great historic precedent.”

But the reason White isn’t outright celebrating is that for House Bill Two to go, the city of Charlotte had to repeal its non-discrimination ordinance, which is similar to what many other large cities have in place across the U.S.

“It’s not clear if this is a step forward or a full retreat.  It really depends on what will happen next year.”

White admits a stalemate in Raleigh on LGBT issues is likely for 2017.  Governor-elect Roy Cooper refused to defend House Bill Two in court in his current role as North Carolina Attorney General.  The Democrat consistently attacked the measure during his successful campaign this year.  But Republicans that spear headed passage of House Bill Two will still hold majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly big enough to override any veto from the governor.

White says HB2 didn't hurt Western North Carolina as much as it did other parts of the state, but still did plenty of economic damage.  While there were businesses that reported losing money due to travel boycotts, the region did not lose high-profile sporting events the rest of North Carolina did because of the law.  The NBA moved it's All-Star Game from Charlotte.  The NCAA pulled all championship events it scheduled in the state, most notably first and second round men's basketball tournament games in Greensboro.  Those games were moved to Greenville, South Carolina - a move even more notable because the NCAA for years refused to play championships in that state.  The Southern Conference decided to keep its basketball tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville at the urging of LGBT groups who said the city political and social climate remained welcoming to all despite HB2.