Last words on HB2

by | Apr 3, 2017 | Editor's Blog, HB2 | 9 comments

I’m not going to write much more about the HB2 repeal bill but after spending too much time on social media this weekend, I need to get this off my chest. I don’t know if I would have voted for the repeal bill had I been in the General Assembly. I’ve got too many LGBT family and friends to take state-sanctioned discrimination lightly and the bill fell far short of where I believe North Carolina should be. But I’m not in the legislature and I didn’t have to make that choice.

That said, I don’t hold anyone who voted for it in the contempt I’ve seen on twitter and Facebook this weekend. Every Democrat who supported the measure would have also voted for full repeal had it been an option. But it wasn’t and it isn’t going to be until Democrats control the legislature again.

Contrary to a narrative pushed by some progressives, Republicans didn’t need HB2 repealed. In fact, opposition to any repeal was increasing according to the Republicans with whom I spoke. Lt. Governor Dan Forest and Tami Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, were pressuring legislators to stand firm against any compromise. Forest was using the issue to grab the mantle of leader of the GOP and solidify his position as the front-runner to oppose Roy Cooper in 2020.

Democratic and Republican leaders believed the window of opportunity to repeal the bill was closing. Once the NCAA deadline passed, no high-profile event could keep the issue in the public eye and put pressure on members of the legislature to act. A year from now, the boycott would still be in effect but the headlines of companies not coming to the state would be gone. Activists might still be protesting but much of the general public would have moved on. The deal they got was not what Phil Berger or Tim Moore would accept; it was what Republican rank-and-file members would give.

Politically, HB2 was damaging to Republicans because it was a bad bill that harmed the state’s reputation and economy. The punch it carried in 2016 came as much from the ACC and NCAA announcing they were withdrawing tournaments six weeks before the election as anything in the bill itself. It kept the issue alive in the minds of voters who may have approved of some of the bill’s tenets but believed it was poorly implemented. Those factors wouldn’t enter into 2018, especially if the economy continues to grow.

Democrats need a wave election to take back the legislature in one election cycle. If that happens in 2018, it will be because of a failing presidency, not because of HB2 or any other state legislation. And if that wave comes, the rest of HB2 will be repealed on the first day of the legislative session in January 2019. That’s as soon as it will ever happen.

Democrats could have certainly stood on principle and resisted the compromise. They probably wouldn’t have gotten any better deal. Nondiscrimination ordinances in counties and towns that are in effect today would still be invalid. And HB2 would stay on the books until that wave comes. And if it doesn’t come in the 2018 or 2020, those nondiscrimination ordinances that now offer protections to LGBT citizens in places like Asheville, Durham, Greensboro, Boone and Carrboro might not be in effect for another decade or more.

The legislators who took those votes for the partial repeal did so hoping to move the ball forward and to restore protections that were taken away. They didn’t sellout the LGBT community. They did what they thought was best, even if it they knew it wasn’t enough. If they do find themselves in primaries, I’ll stand by them.


  1. Frank mcguirt

    All must realize that the governor and Democratic leadership got all they could and it’s amazing they got that. Look, the Fepublicans hold veto-proof majorities in both houses. They hold all the marbles. They can pass, defeat or veto whatever they wish! Roy Cooper, Dan Blue and Darren Jackson got a good deal. Now, let’s get out elect Democrats in 2018. And please school teachers wake up! You, your families and friends stop voting against your own self interests. Public education is at stake.

  2. Jake Gellar-Goad

    Whether one thinks this deal was compromising too far or making the best of a bad situation, we need more LGBTQ folks to run for office. The voices we can most count on are our own. There was too much hate and ignorance surrounding the HB2 debate from the very beginning. But it’s harder for people to hate us when they know us, and there’s less ignorance when we have more seats at the table.

    • Austin

      Hate and ignorance?????? Its an issue about whether a male
      Me (who “identifies” as female) using same bathroom, changing rooms, and very probably showers as well.

      And those who speak out against this illogical, nonsensical confusion, are labeled intolerant, bigoted, hateful and ignorant….by those who preach tolerance, yet, hypocritically display nothing but Intolerance towards those with different views.

      No, lgbtq folks in office making policy will prove unhealthy for the well being and future health of society. History and the Bible are trying to warn us, but we are not listening, we are so focused on toletance and political correctness.

  3. willard cottrell

    I’ve been following this and I too agree w/ the vote. Is it a good deal? NO! But, given the makeup of this legislature the best we were going to get. The whole issue is becoming a non starter. There are much bigger fish that the national republicans are going to try that makes this issue really small potatoes. All of my complaints to Michelle Presnell aren’t going to change her vote. She has never voted w/ any reason what-so-ever. Our best plan I think, is to use our energy on the bigger issues. Not only state issues like the economy, but national issues like HRC. It will come up again. IF RYAN is able to get an agreement it will only be for the more harsh bill that Meadows/Sanford are trying to push. If trumPutin continues his arrogance on NK war will b/c the spotlight. So let it (HB2) go!

  4. Munn Norma

    You are right and I won’t abandon the Dems who voted for the repeal. But I will watch very carefully other compromises that involve similar questions.

  5. Walt de Vries, Ph.D.

    Tom: Your column is the best explanation yet of what really happened with the passage of the HB2 “repeal” bill and Governor Cooper’s signing it.
    I get so tired of ideologues who want what they perceive as purity and principle–and are not willing to compromise on anything.
    I, like you, think a wave is coming, now that the Trump administration is revealing its true colors. I find it interesting that most of the Trump voters–at this point–are more rigid in their support of Trump’s personality, ideas and actions than ever. Guilt feelings? Regrets? Rationalizations in the face of disturbing reality? Like Trump, never admitting they were wrong? What fascinating study it will be to dig into this situation. Anyone up to it?

  6. PAul shannon

    Thomas, thank you for all of the thought and research you put in on this topic over the weekend. It helps a lot us going through the sensemaking process when dealing with an emotional political compromise like HB142.

  7. Eric Smith

    Thank you, Tom, well put. I am a gay North Carolinian and my emotions in response to the compromise repeal of HB2 have gone back-and-forth. You have helped me to feel more reconciled about what happened. As is said: Perfection is the Enemy of the Good. We need a strong Democratic governor in Roy Cooper, someone who will be reelected. We do NOT want a Governor Dan Forest. Gay and lesbian Democrats were willing to allow President Obama six years of equivocation on same-sex marriage, until he finally felt in a position to speak forthrightly about marriage equality after the passage of Amendment One in North Carolina. That was a moment I will never forget.. I think we need to give Roy Cooper the benefit of doubt on this as well.

Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!