2016 Rewind: North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’

It was in North Carolina that LGBT civil rights advocates suffered their most significant political loss of 2016 — but also won their most significant political battle.

In a single day in March, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican leadership of the General Assembly advanced House Bill 2. The “Act to Provide for Single-sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations” requires people to use restrooms consistent with the gender listed on their birth certificates.

It also prohibits municipalities from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people.

Passage of HB2, dubbed the “bathroom bill,” prompted federal and state lawsuits, national protests and widespread boycotts of North Carolina by governments, celebrities, corporations, charities and sports leagues.

In the last month of 2016, HB2 remained on the books but on hold. In the meantime, voters had flushed McCrory from office and elected Democrat Roy Cooper.

“North Carolina just sent a powerful message to the entire country: The days of preying on LGBTQ people for political gain is over,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “McCrory failed to listen to the majority of fair-minded North Carolinians who know that anti-LGBTQ hatred has no place in their state — and he lost big because of it. Roy Cooper is a powerful voice for equality and has vowed to work to overturn the hateful and discriminatory HB2.”

McCrory was the only incumbent governor to lose on Election Day and polling showed his devotion to discrimination was a critical factor in his defeat.

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