North Carolina's Anti-LGBT Law Has Cost the State More Than $560 Million So Far

Opponents of a North Carolina bill that limited transgender students' bathroom access protest in Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 11, 2016. The economic loss caused by the bill is estimated to be more than a half a billion dollars. (Photo: Ray Whitehouse / The New York Times) Opponents of a North Carolina bill that limited transgender students’ bathroom access protest in Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 11, 2016. The economic loss caused by the bill is estimated to be more than a half a billion dollars. (Photo: Ray Whitehouse / The New York Times)

At a Jan. 4 economic forum sponsored by the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, newly elected Gov. Roy Cooper (D) asked businesses for help repealing the state’s widely criticized House Bill 2, which, among other things, prevents transgender people from using the restroom that matches their gender identity and bars local governments from passing nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community. Cooper said he thinks a clean repeal of HB2 would pass the Republican-dominated General Assembly, and he called on business leaders to pressure legislative leaders to put it to a vote. 

Last month state lawmakers held a special session to repeal the law after Cooper, who had not yet been sworn in, brokered a deal with Republican legislative leaders and the Charlotte City Council, which had approved a local anti-discrimination ordinance that led to HB2’s passage. The deal called for Charlotte to fully repeal its ordinance, which it did on Dec. 21 after an initial partial repeal. But Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) and his GOP caucus didn’t fulfill their end of the bargain by introducing and passing a clean repeal bill. Instead, they tacked on a moratorium blocking local governments from passing any nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people until 30 days after the 2017 legislative session, which would likely be sometime in late summer or early fall. 

Democrats refused to vote for the measure, the deal collapsed, and so HB2 remains on the books. Besides taking a toll on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the bill has dealt a major economic loss to North Carolina as many businesses have canceled plans to expand in the state while popular sporting events have been…

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