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Seeking to placate a multitude of critics across the country -- chief among them, the National Basketball Association -- North Carolina lawmakers have drafted legislation intended to walk back parts of its controversial law, House Bill 2, a measure widely viewed as discriminatory toward transgender Americans.
Among the proposed changes to the law frequently derided as the “bathroom bill” -- so named for its requirement that people use government building bathrooms matching the sex listed on their birth certificates -- the new measure apparently aims to address concerns over the fact that transgender people often have a difficult time amending their birth certificates to reflect the gender with which they identify.
But based off a copy of the draft legislation obtained exclusively by CBS affiliate, WBTV, LGBT advocates aren’t satisfied.
"This proposal does nothing to protect LGBT people in North Carolina,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina, in a statement. “Instead, it doubles down on discrimination. The only way to stop the damage caused by HB2 is to fully repeal it once and for all."
Enacted in a one-day special session in March, HB2 nullified all local nondiscrimination ordinances and barred transgender people from using government building bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities. Immediately, it ignited a firestorm of criticism from the likes of businesses, musicians, and sports organizations responsible for pumping millions of dollars into North Carolina’s economy.
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The proposed “fix” now being circulated among Republican lawmakers would create an official document to recognize a person’s gender reassignment -- one that would act as an alternative for anyone who comes from a state that does not allow changes to birth certificates at all.
But LGBT advocates were quick to point out that a majority of transgender people don’t actually undergo gender reassignment surgery, and would therefore still be barred from using government building bathrooms in North Carolina that match their gender identities.
“The discriminatory proposal being offered by lawmakers today does not change the harmful status quo for nearly every transgender person in North Carolina,” said the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC officials in a joint press release. “Many states, including North Carolina, require transgender people to have gender reassignment surgery to update their birth certificates. However, only 33 percent of transgender people actually have gender reassignment surgery. This is due to a variety of factors -– including but not limited to cost, age, health and medical needs, and access to skilled providers.”
Leaders of both groups called for the full and immediate repeal of HB2. But it’s not just LGBT advocates that North Carolina has to worry about.
In April, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made clear that changes in the law were necessary in order for Charlotte to remain the host of next year’s All-Star Game, an event that can generate upwards of a $100 million for the host city. A month later, the U.S. Justice Department and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory sued each other, with each taking an opposing stand on whether existing federal statutes protect transgender people from discrimination.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation who spoke with NBC News, the NBA along with the Charlotte Hornets have been in conversation with North Carolina lawmakers, the governor’s office, local business leaders and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts to try and come up with changes to HB2 that would satisfy all parties. The NBA has made clear that it wants all patrons attending next year’s All-Star game and any other state event pertaining to the game to be able to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identities, the source said.
As to whether the NBA is comfortable with the draft legislation currently circulating, the source said the league was “in the process of evaluating” and would make a final decision about whether to keep the game in Charlotte sometime this summer.