TAR HEEL VIEW: How much discrimination is the right amount?

With all the HB2 proposals and counter-proposals flying around the legislature these days, it can be hard to know which bill you should support. Let’s see if we can help.

The HB2 debate really comes down to this: How much discrimination are you OK with?

A little? A lot? None?

If you can tolerate a lot, HB2 is the bill for you. If you can stomach just a medium amount, you’ll probably like HB186, the leading repeal bill being discussed at the legislature this week. If you are OK with just a little discrimination, you’ll probably back HB186 minus its referendum provision that lets voters decide whether to discriminate against LGBT citizens.

And if you want none? Well, plenty of approaches would provide that. But they’ve all been dismissed because they’re not “politically feasible.” Why are they not feasible? Because Republican legislators will not support them. They are as likely to pass as a transgender person is to assault someone in a public bathroom.

Repeal efforts have ratcheted up this week because just weeks remain, at most, before the NCAA and the ACC strike North Carolina off their lists for championship events for at least six years. Legislators and advocates on all sides of the fight held competing press conferences Tuesday.

We agree with Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan, Charlotte Sports Foundation Executive Director Will Webb and others who say HB2 urgently needs to be repealed to stop the economic and reputational damage it’s inflicting. Our measure of the fix, though, is not as simple as whether it’s enough to recoup an NCAA event or two. We cling to this idealistic notion that North Carolina should not discriminate against any of its residents or visitors.

Neither side is rushing to compromise. HB2 opponents insist on nothing less than a clean repeal. HB2 backers – and their numbers have been dwindling for a year – insist on a solution that at its core keeps alive the myth that sexual predation has been a problem in North Carolina’s bathrooms.

But Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, is right that Republican leaders keep moving the goalposts. First they agreed to a “repeal/repeal” deal in which they would repeal HB2 if Charlotte first repealed its ordinance. Charlotte did; the legislature didn’t. Then Republicans blocked cities from regulating bathrooms and Gov. Roy Cooper agreed. Now they want the public to be able to hold referendums on minorities’ civil rights.

Jackson and Cooper have agreed to back HB186 if the referendum provision is removed. Even that amended bill would allow city contractors, nonprofits and others to discriminate against gays and would leave unsettled what bathroom transgender people are to use.

North Carolina must be a state that recognizes every person’s dignity. If the legislature fails to make us that state, don’t blame those who treasure such a simple goal.

The Charlotte Observer