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Incoming North Carolina Governor Vows Repeal of Controversial LGBT Law

The incoming governor of North Carolina said Monday that he will ask state lawmakers to repeal a controversial law that limited LGBT protections.
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North Carolina Governor-elect Roy Cooper speaks to supporters at a victory rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S., December 6, 2016.Jonathan Drake / Reuters

The incoming governor of North Carolina said Monday that he will ask state lawmakers to repeal a controversial law that restricted transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

Governor-elect Roy Cooper, who unseated Pat McCrory last month in part by campaigning against the law, said the move followed the Charlotte City Council's decision to repeal the pro-LGBT ordinance that inspired the North Carolina General Assembly to pass the law in the first place.

Related: Trial over North Carolina's House Bill 2 Delayed Until Next Summer

Cooper, the state's attorney general, said he already had agreement from the leaders of the state Senate and House of Representatives to undo the law, known as House Bill 2, and that the legislature would meet in special session on Tuesday to get it done.

Republican leaders have said in the past they would not repeal the law unless Charlotte backed down first. That appears to have happened, with Charlotte living up to its end of the deal and Cooper, who takes office Jan. 1, attempting to hold lawmakers to theirs.

"I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full," Cooper said in a statement. "Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state."

Since HB2 passed in March, a variety of companies, sports leagues and entertainers have turned their backs on North Carolina in protest.

Related: NCAA Pulls Seven Championships Out of North Carolina Over HB2

The state law was passed in reaction to an ordinance approved by the Charlotte City Council in February that expanded legal protections for LGBT citizens, including transgender peoples' freedom to use bathrooms assigned to the gender they identified as. The state law, passed in an overnight session of the legislature and signed quickly by McCrory, restricted such bathroom access in schools and government buildings, nullifying the Charlotte ordinance and other similar local measures. In addition, the law stripped cities of the right to set their own minimum wages.

"It’s been 271 days since the shameful and archaic HB2 was first passed, and the entire country has witnessed its devastating impact," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a joint statement with Equality North Carolina praising Coooper's deal. "It's time for state lawmakers to repeal HB2 and begin repairing the harm this bill has done to people and the damage it has done to North Carolina's reputation and economy."

The Charlotte City Council said in a statement that it repealed the ordinance during a Monday morning meeting with the local delegation to the state legislature. The council made the move contingent on HB2 being repealed by Dec. 31.

The city remains "deeply dedicated to protecting the rights of all people from discrimination, and, with House Bill 2 repealed, will be able to pursue that priority for our community," the statement said.