A yearlong debate over transgender access to public bathroom and locker room facilities seemed to come to an end late Wednesday as Republicans and Democrats reached a last-minute agreement that will void a controversial North Carolina law.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D), state Senate President Phil Berger (R) and state House Speaker Tim Moore (R) announced Wednesday night they had agreed to repeal House Bill 2, a measure that blocked local governments from allowing transgender residents to access the bathroom facilities of their choice.
The compromise still prevents local governments and the state's colleges and universities from regulating access to multiple-occupancy restrooms and locker rooms. The measure repeals House Bill 2, which also applied to single-use facilities.
"I support the House Bill 2 repeal compromise that will be introduced tomorrow," Cooper said in a statement late Wednesday. "It's not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation."
In a joint statement, Berger and Moore said: "Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy."
The Republican-led legislature passed the bill last year, before Cooper ousted Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. Companies and sports leagues objected to the measure, and many pulled their business from the state after the bill became law. This week, The Associated Press estimated that H.B. 2 would cost North Carolina more than $3.7 billion in lost revenue over the next decade.
The NCAA, which had already pulled several tournament games from North Carolina, had given the state until this week to roll back the ban on transgender bathroom access, before a regional panel decided where to hold collegiate events in coming years.
The deal announced late Wednesday represents a rare agreement after a year of increasingly partisan stalemates, in which Democrats and Republicans both cast blame on the other side as they sought a deal that would allow them to save face.
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights organization, criticized the compromise before the measure was publicly announced.
"This proposal is a train wreck that would double down on anti-LGBTQ discrimination. North Carolinians want a clean repeal of HB2, and we urge our allies not to sell us out," Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro said in a statement. "Those who stand for equality and with LGBTQ people are standing strong against these antics."