North Carolina Lawmakers Fail to Repeal HB2 'Bathroom Bill'

PHOTO: A gender neutral sign is posted outside a bathrooms at Oval Park Grill, May 11, 2016, in Durham, North Carolina. PlaySara D. Davis/Getty Images
WATCH NC Lawmakers Fail to Repeal HB2 'Bathroom Bill'

North Carolina lawmakers failed to repeal House Bill 2, commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” which limits LGBT rights and has sparked controversy across the Tar Heel state since it was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in March.

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The Senate today debated a bill that would repeal HB2 and also add a six-month moratorium on any local government from passing an anti-discrimination ordinance.

But the Republican-controlled legislature showed once again that it preferred to go its own way.

HB2 requires public schools, public college campuses and government agencies to designate multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, for use according to the "biological sex" stated on a person’s birth certificate. Under the law, transgender people cannot use bathrooms and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity unless they get the sex on their birth certificate changed.

HB2 has prompted economic boycotts and a loss of jobs in the state. The NBA announced in July that it was moving 2017's All-Star Game out of Charlotte over concerns about the law.

Today's special session was called to "reconsider existing state legislation," McCrory said in a statement Monday. The session was prompted by the Charlotte City Council's Monday vote to rescind its LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, a local law that led to the statewide HB2, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Charlotte’s city council met again this morning, and voted again to rescind the ordinance, a move the city called “additional steps to ensure the repeal of HB2 would not be jeopardized in any way.”

Today’s vote was “7-2 to remove all aspects of the original ordinance that remained,” the city said in a statement. “The City Council acted in good faith to do everything that it understood was necessary to facilitate the repeal of HB2."

After the initial Charlotte vote Monday, Gov.-elect Roy Cooper said that legislative leaders promised to call a special session to repeal HB2.

McCrory then said in a statement Monday, "As I promised months ago, if the Charlotte ordinance was repealed, I would call our General Assembly into a special session to reconsider existing state legislation passed earlier this year. And I'm doing just that for this Wednesday."

McCrory added, "Now that the Charlotte ordinance has finally been repealed, the expectation of privacy in our showers, bathrooms and locker rooms is restored and protected under previous state law. I have always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance. But those efforts were blocked by [Charlotte Mayor] Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists. This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election has ended sadly proves this entire issue, originated by the political left, was all about politics at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina."

"The whole issue of gender identity is a national issue that will be resolved by the courts and the United States Justice Department," McCrory said. "I look forward to that resolution and to working with our state legislators in the coming days."

McCrory came under fire earlier this year for signing HB2 into law.

HB2 supporters say the law protects women and children from sexual offenders who they say might falsely claim to be transgender in order to access bathrooms of the opposite sex.

But groups including the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project have dismissed that concern as a myth.

Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, told ABC News earlier this year that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity “doesn’t increase in any way public safety incidents.”

Strangio said there were two central falsehoods to North Carolina legislators’ reasoning: one is "that transgender people aren’t real and [are] inherently dangerous.” The second falsehood is that without HB2, "non-transgender people will take advantage" of the situation -- for example, a man could dress up as a woman to enter a woman's bathroom.

“All this does is to heighten gender policing of everyone by law enforcement, and individual people who do not conform to gender norms are targeted," Strangio said.

McCrory conceded the North Carolina gubernatorial race to Cooper earlier this month, weeks after requesting a vote recount.

Cooper, a Democrat, has called HB2 "one of the most discriminatory laws in the country" and argued that the bill should be repealed.

Cooper said in a statement Monday that a full repeal of the law "will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state."

The special session began at 10 a.m. today, according to The Charlotte Observer.

As the special session began, Lt. Governor Dan Forest -– who was re-elected in November –- said today he supports HB2 and doesn't want it repealed. "No economic, political or ideological pressure can convince me that what is wrong is right. It will always be wrong for men to have access to women's showers and bathrooms," he said in a statement.

"If HB2 is repealed, there will be nothing on the books to prevent another city or county to take us down this path again," Forest said, adding that if it's repealed, "we will fight this battle all over again with another city or county. The names will change, but the national groups who are pushing this agenda will not stop until their social engineering is accomplished."

ABC News' Scott Withers and Stevie Borrello contributed to this report.

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