Opponents of North Carolina's HB2 law in the state's House of Representatives in Raleigh in December 2016.
Jonathan Drake / Reuters
The North Carolina General Assembly took steps on Thursday to repeal part of a law that restricts LGBT rights, but far from being hailed for moving in the right direction, the state's Democratic governor is being criticized by progressive activists who say he colluded with Republicans to betray them.
The state senate voted 32 to 16 for the bill shortly after 11:30 a.m. local time, then sending it by voice vote to the House of Representatives where a tighter voted is expected later in the day.
Fueling the sudden flurry of activity, the National Collegiate Athletic Association had threatened to essentially boycott the basketball-loving state until 2022 by withholding championship games unless lawmakers substantially nullified the existing law by Thursday.
But whether the bill actually met the sports association's criteria was unclear; the NCAA did not answer questions from BuzzFeed News about whether the measure was enough to schedule games in the Tar Heel State.
The underlying law, known as HB2, gained most of its attention for banning many transgender people from restrooms that matched their gender identity in government facilities — making North Carolina the first state with such a policy, while drawing corporate boycotts and federal lawsuits.
A lesser-known provision of HB2 blocked local jurisdictions from enacting their own LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances.
Gov. Roy Cooper
Ben Mckeown / AP
But a deal to repeal the law, which was announced Wednesday night by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and leaders in the Republican-controlled legislature, would only withdraw the rules as applied to bathrooms and other single-sex facilities.
The compromise approved by the senate on Thursday would continue to block local policies that protect LGBT rights until December 2020.
By continuing to ban local nondiscrimination laws, the proposed repeal only reinforces the state's position that discrimination would remain legal, activists said.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which campaigned heavily for Cooper, blasted the governor on Twitter, saying, "This isn't repeal. This doubles down on discrimination. This is a leadership test. And the Governor is failing."
Cooper's office did not respond to BuzzFeed News' about how he responded to criticisms from the LGBT groups.
North Carolina is not be the only state to supersede local LGBT protections; Arkansas passed a law to that effect in 2015.