How North Carolina Went From ‘Bathroom Bills’ to Equality Leader

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It’s been a little over five years, March 23, since the passage of House Bill 2, a piece of legislation that forever transformed North Carolina and the fight for transgender rights in the United States and around the world commonly referred to “the bathroom bill.” On this notorious anniversary, our country is also on the precipice of passing a federal law protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in every area of life, including housing, public spaces, healthcare, and more. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act earlier this month, and it’s up to the U.S. Senate to take the bill and enact its critical protections once and for all. It’s incredible to think how far we’ve come in five years — and how North Carolina has been a major player in our country’s major shift toward transgender equality. HB2 in 2016 was about so much more than bathrooms — it outright overturned and banned local statutes throughout North Carolina that protected people from discrimination. A global backlash followed: Businesses, celebrities, events canceled an estimated $3.76 billion in investment from North Carolina. And that fall, Governor Pat McCrory, a major champion of HB2, lost his reelection bid, unable to overcome the political damage of the law. In past weeks, a half dozen municipalities in North Carolina have passed LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances. Each of the ordinances they passed unanimously. According to polling, more than 67 percent of North Carolinians support nondiscrimination measures. North Carolina, and certainly their neighbor Virginia are starting to light a new path for LGBTQ civil rights.

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