The following editorial appeared in the Hendersonville Times-News on February 10.
HB2: Don’t wait to find a solution
Henderson County and Western North Carolina have a smart, pragmatic and experienced leader in N.C. Rep. Chuck McGrady. His consensus-building skills are needed as North Carolina tries again to repeal a law that’s cost the state millions, before worse economic damage is done.
The Hendersonville Republican answered questions this week from the Washington Post on efforts to repeal House Bill 2, the infamous “bathroom bill.” Although he made no promises, the fact that McGrady is involved in seeking a solution is a good sign.
We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of HB2, and the stakes keep getting higher. The National Collegiate Athletic Association could soon block North Carolina from hosting championships for six years at a cost of more than $250 million, a sports official said in a letter to legislators Monday.
The governing body for U.S. college athletics is now reviewing bids, including 133 from North Carolina cities and universities, to host events through spring 2022, said Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance. “Our contacts at the NCAA tell us that, due to their (lawmakers’) stance on HB2, all North Carolina bids will be pulled from the review process and removed from consideration,” Dupree said. He added that the state’s sports tourism industry could suffer “crushing, long-term losses” in a matter of days.
Republican lawmakers passed HB2 in March 2016 after Charlotte City Council passed a non-discrimination ordinance that allows transgender people to use whatever bathroom they choose. HB2 eliminated local anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and requires that in government buildings, people use restrooms and changing facilities that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate.
When this issue first blew up, we noted that both Charlotte’s ordinance and HB2 were unnecessary. We suggested Charlotte City Council and the General Assembly mutually agree to repeal their actions. That almost happened in December.
“The deal, such as it was, was that Charlotte would repeal, and in return, we would repeal,” McGrady told the Post. However, when lawmakers learned that Charlotte had not fully repealed its ordinance, the deal fell apart. Soon thereafter, Charlotte repealed its ordinance in its entirety.
In the Q&A with the Post, McGrady spelled out complications legislators face in undoing HB2. “There have been a lot of different things discussed: Should the state adopt the federally protected categories (for discrimination) or should we expand them? Should we provide localities a way to expand those categories? The idea here is to be fair. You shouldn’t have one municipality deciding how they want to deal with these pretty complex social issues and trying to impose them on others.”
He also noted he has heard from colleagues that “it’d be a shame to do the right thing, but do it late” (to prevent the NCAA from pulling out of North Carolina). As March Madness approaches, it would be madness for the General Assembly to fail to act.