House Bill 2

Opponents of House Bill 2 protest across the street from the North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, April 11, 2016 during a rally in support of the law that blocks rules allowing transgender people to use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The controversial North Carolina bill officially called House Bill 2 and unofficially called the “Bathroom Bill” has been making waves ever since it was passed in March of 2016. Almost exactly a year later, on March 30th, of 2017, the law was repealed. To understand the swift about-face, you need to understand just what the bill meant.

First of all, it was the bill that made North Carolina the first state to openly restrict what public bathrooms, and locker rooms, transgender people were allowed to use, limiting them to the gender they were designated at birth, not the gender they identify as. Backlash against the bigoted bill was almost immediate, and was only worsened by the fact that North Carolina is a swing state; split between very liberal cities and very conservative rural areas.

The bill caused many businesses and celebrities to boycott the entire state in protest: Bruce Springsteen cancelled his stop on the River Tour there, and a PayPal distribution center that was supposed to open there withdrew from the deal, costing the state millions of dollars of potential profit. The NCAA gave the state until Thursday, March 30th (the day the bill was repealed, incidentally), to get rid of the law or lose the rights to host college tournaments in the state for the next six years. Many smaller businesses and performers boycotted the state as well. Eventually, North Carolina surrendered to the growing economic and social strain, and removed the law.

However, it did come with a catch. The conditions for the repeal included a temporary ban (lasting for three years, until 2020) on other anti-discrimination laws and measures; stopping local jurisdictions from creating new protections for LGBT+ people. Many are angry about this new measure, and there’s been debate over whether it’s even any better than House Bill 2. 

Overall, whether this is a step forward, or a step back, for LGBT+ rights has yet to be decided.

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