Charlotte's stance stalls HB2 repeal discussions

The fight continues over House Bill 2. (WTVD)

Any hopes for a pending resolution to the economic fallout North Carolina is experiencing over House Bill 2 appear to have been dashed in what amounts to a high-stakes political game of chicken.

There seemed to be a breakthrough in discussions about the controversial so-called bathroom bill Friday, when Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory suggested they would consider a prompt special session to rescind HB2 if the city of Charlotte first repealed their LGBT city ordinance that sparked the creation of HB2.

But Monday, Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts said the city council would not address the issue at its meeting Monday evening.

Her response basically amounted to "no, you move first."

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In a statement Monday, Roberts noted that Republicans don't need Charlotte to withdraw its local protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity before repealing the state law that has cost North Carolina major sporting events.

Roberts said she applauded McCrory for recognizing the need to repeal HB2, which she said the state could do at any time without action from her city council.

Charlotte city leaders and proponents of LGBT rights held a news conference outside the government center to make a call on the General Assembly to repeal HB2.

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State Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said Charlotte's actions called into question whether the city's leaders were sincere about trying to resolve the issue.

"After months of making nonstop calls to repeal HB2, Mayor Roberts' hasty dismissal of a reasonable proposal to rescind the Charlotte bathroom ordinance and the law that resulted from it makes me question if she and Roy Cooper are really serious about trying to find a solution, or if they would rather prolong this debate for political reasons," Berger said.

"If the Charlotte City Council doesn't trust the legislature will rescind HB2 once Charlotte repeals its bathroom ordinance, then it could simply pass a repeal of the bathroom ordinance that is only effective if the legislature repeals HB2," Berger added.

The NC Democratic Party repeated its call for McCrory to move to repeal HB2.

"Governor McCrory needs to quit holding our economy hostage and repeal his disastrous law, HB2," said Kimberly Reynolds, NCDP Executive Director. "The economic damage facing our state is being caused by HB2 - nothing else. Is the Governor going to threaten our entire economy every time he wants to pick a political fight with a local government? North Carolina just can't afford that."

NC GOP Chairman Robin Hayes countered by maintaining that Democrats have "blocked good-faith efforts to keep sporting events in North Carolina."

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Hayes accused Attorney General Roy Cooper and other Democrats of exploiting HB2 for political gain at the expense of "hardworking North Carolinians."

"Roy Cooper's silence on the Charlotte bathroom ordinance repeal deal confirms he was working with his ally Jennifer Roberts to kill any compromise all along," Hayes said. "Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts have been following the orders of radical Washington, D.C. special interest groups who will not stop until they impose an extreme, politically-correct agenda on our state to allow men to use women's restrooms, showers and locker rooms."

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"Rather than trying to seek a solution that would reset a contentious debate, Mayor Roberts and her allies, including Roy Cooper and special interest groups, have decided that they would rather play a game of politics than take steps toward a solution," said House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland). "It now seems clear that all along Mayor Roberts and Roy Cooper have been engaging in political theater to the detriment of the entire state, and this explains why they have refused to heed the calls to act from the business community and from people on all sides of the political spectrum."

The state law was passed in March in response to Charlotte's controversial ordinance expanding anti-discrimination protections.

Before Charlotte's ordinance could take effect last spring, Republicans held a special session to block all local governments from passing similar rules, and to limit public bathroom and changing-room options for transgender people to the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Earlier this week, two Republican senators, Rick Gunn of Alamance County and Tamara Barringer of Wake County, added their voices to those wanting a repeal or change to House Bill 2.

Both senators, who are running for re-election, voted for House Bill 2 in March. But they now say they regret it, giving the negative economic impact and national scrutiny the state has since received.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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