If you take one step forward, only to have an opponent push you four steps backward, what do you call it when said opponent decides to let you move one step forward again?
Compromise. At least that’s what the Republican lawmakers backing House Bill 2 seem to want to call the tinkering they did Friday on the controversial law.
We would offer a different term: Political fig leaf.
After all, House Speaker Tim Moore said Friday afternoon that the only HB2 change happening this year is repeal of a provision that limited workplace discrimination lawsuits in state courts.
That, of course, is a provision the embattled Gov. Pat McCrory has repeatedly said that he wants restored. Passing it gives the Republican a leadership “win” to throw back at Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, who regularly faults the governor’s handling of the messy fallout from HB2.
Curiously, Moore advised that corporations worried about anti-LGBT bias should see the state court move “as fixing that.”
That strikes us as an odd form of compromise, given that access to state-court remedies was never at issue in the Charlotte ordinance HB2 supporters blame for creating the current mess.
Republican lawmakers figured as long as they were taking away the transgender bathroom rights granted by Charlotte’s ordinance, they might as well see what other minority rights they could handcuff.
It was overreach, plain and simple.
To now cast restoring the right to sue as an act of legislative generosity is downright insulting – especially when they also set the new statute of limitations at one year. The pre-HB2 standard? Three years.
To be sure, we welcome the restoration of the right to sue in state court. But the legislature leaves in place two of the most offensive and controversial parts of HB2 – provisions that strip cities of their ability to pass their own non-discrimination rules, and that require transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex listed on their birth certificate rather than with their gender identity.
Businesses and government can still force transgender women into men’s restrooms, where their femininity could put them in danger. And North Carolina’s humiliation on the national stage is sure to continue, with the NBA likely moving its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte.
Republicans aren’t budging on that front. They even earmarked $500,000 to defend House Bill 2 in court, despite a ruling from our region’s controlling federal appellate court that seems to doom that defense to failure.
The fact that they transferred that money from a natural disaster fund sparked the obvious jokes about HB2 being a man-made one.
But until full rights and protections are afforded to LGBT citizens, this remains anything but a laughing matter.