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Charlotte City Council Repeals Ordinance That Led To Bathroom Bill


A political fight in North Carolina is coming to an end for now. Outgoing Republican Governor Pat McCrory said today that he would call a special session to repeal what is known as the state's bathroom bill. Among other things, it prevents transgender people from using the public restroom that they prefer.

Joining us now is Jeff Tiberii of member station WUNC. And Jeff, this morning before McCrory's announcement, the Charlotte City Council repealed its LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance. What do those two developments taken together mean for LGBT rights in North Carolina?

JEFF TIBERII, BYLINE: Well, for LGBT folks in this state, things are back to where they were nine months ago or a year ago. That means there's no city law protecting individuals who are transgender within the city of Charlotte or really anywhere else in this state.

But now there also won't be a state mandate that requires people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate. And the law - the bathroom bill, as it's known - also House Bill 2 - it also prevented cities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances of their own. And for now, that ban is lifted.

SIEGEL: Businesses, sports leagues, musicians boycotted North Carolina after Governor McCrory signed that state law, HB2. What sort of impact will repealing it have on the state's economy?

TIBERII: Well, since its passage during a special session back in March, the economic impact has truly been significant. PayPal halted a plan to expand 400 jobs here. A number of concerts and conferences were canceled. There was also a sports hit. The NBA relocated its All-Star Game. The NCAA removed March Madness men's tournament basketball games from here.

So that's what has happened. We don't know yet what the reverse effect of this bill will be. Does it open the door again for PayPal and the NBA and performers or does, you know, the stain of this legislation kind of linger for a while?

SIEGEL: Politically speaking, North Carolina is deeply divided. Is there any reason to think that repealing this law is going to ease any of its political tensions?

TIBERII: The law has been incredibly divisive for, you know, most of the year. It's worth noting that outgoing Republican Governor Pat McCrory was really a champion and a cheerleader of this measure. He defended it for months while criticizing, you know, the radical media and the activists who were backing it. But it's, you know, worth noting; Donald Trump won comfortably here last month, and McCrory did not.

The timing of all this - this potential repeal - is fascinating. Last week, Republican lawmakers did convene a special session, stripped the incoming Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, of some of his would-be executive authority. Now, Cooper is taking some credit for making this repeal effort happen even as he lost power before taking office. And Republicans get to shift the focus away from what had been, you know, last week called this last-minute power grab.

And it's worth also noting; Republicans will hold super majorities in the legislature next year. And with a Democratic governor, I think the infighting and, you know, the political gamesmanship will continue.

SIEGEL: That's Jeff Tiberii of WUNC in North Carolina. Jeff, thanks.

TIBERII: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Tiberii first started posing questions to strangers after dinner at La Cantina Italiana, in Massachusetts, when he was two-years-old. Jeff grew up in Wayland, Ma., an avid fan of the Boston Celtics, and took summer vacations to Acadia National Park (ME) with his family. He graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, and moved to North Carolina in 2006. His experience with NPR member stations WAER (Syracuse), WFDD (Winston-Salem) and now WUNC, dates back 15 years.
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