RALEIGH (WTVD) --Conversations are starting on Jones Street about holding a new vote on House Bill 2 -- not at the Legislature but at the ballot box.
A powerful Republican lawmaker suggests it's time to let the public vote yay or nay on the controversial law.
Twenty-four hours after raucous protests for and against HB2 consumed the General Assembly, Sen. Tom Apodaca's comments signify, perhaps, the biggest crack yet in the united front from Republican lawmakers, who want to leave the law alone.
"If it was up to me, I'd just put it out to a vote of the people, let them decide what they want to do," Apodaca said.
Apodaca, a Republican from Hendersonville and the No. 2 Republican in the state Senate, who voted for HB2, is pushing to let North Carolina voters decide whether or not to repeal the law. He wants a referendum on the November ballot.
"You know, let's put it on the ballot and get it over with once and for all," Apodaca said.
Talk of a referendum comes amid mounting HB2 uproar.
Fifty-four demonstrators were arrested Monday at the Legislature in protests against the law. Nearly 200 businesses and corporations have signed on to an anti-HB2 petition. And an estimated $3.5 million has been lost in Wake County convention business alone.
Read all ABC11 stories about HB2 here
"What Senator Apodaca's comments say to me, is somebody that voted for House Bill 2 is, he's now saying clearly that wasn't the right strategy," said Greensboro State Rep. Chris Sgro, a Democrat and the executive director of LGBT activist group Equality NC.
Sgro insists the law, which blocks state protections for the LGBT community and takes away people's right to sue in state court over workplace discrimination, is a complete disaster. His solution is repeal not a referendum.
"(Republicans) understand the problem; they have the wrong solution," Sgro said. "The only solution is the full repeal of House Bill 2. A bad bill needs to be repealed."
Sgro is a co-sponsor for House Bill 946. It calls for the full repeal of HB2, but does not have the votes to move forward.
ABC 11 did not hear back from Republican leadership at the Legislature on Apodaca's push for a referendum.
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