Weeks after voting for a bill that revokes LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws and forces trans people to use bathrooms that don't correspond with their gender identity, Democratic North Carolina House member Billy Richardson is gunning to repeal it.
During a Friday appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Richardson told host Chuck Todd, "I have legislation drafted that I will introduce in the short session. What my legislation would do is re-establish our courts as a means of redress." As The New Civil Rights Movement reports, Richardson further stated that his proposal will "[expand] out anti-discrimination laws to the LGBT community and to veterans and to service members."
Prior to his appearance on the news program, Richardson issued a press release on the need to strike down House Bill 2, a controversial piece of legislation signed into law March 23 by North Carolina's Republican governor, Pat McCrory. According to ThinkProgress, the bill has cost the Tar Heel State $39.7 million, after over 160 companies spoke out to condemn it.
The law nullifies LGBT-inclusive municipal antidiscrimination ordinances, while preventing cities and counties from enacting new ones. It also bars transgender people from using the restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities that match their gender identity, if those facilities are in government buildings, including public schools. And it prohibits residents from filing discrimination suits in state court.
"House Bill 2 has taken our state in the wrong direction, undermining our values and costing us jobs," Richardson said in the statement. "Since HB2's enactment, a powerful movement of businesses and community leaders have joined with members of the legislature to repair the damage caused by this discriminatory law. ... My bill is a commonsense approach to fixing this problem."
In addition to providing statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, Richardson commented that his hope is to "restore an essential civil right." He said, "[The bill] would reopen the state court house doors to North Carolinians who suffer discrimination in the workplace, while seeking housing, or when using public places."
Previously, Richardson penned an op-ed for the Fayetteville Observer apologizing for his earlier vote to pass HB 2, which he claimed has "haunted" him. He reaffirmed that same stance in his Friday interview. "The bottom line is, I just looked myself in the mirror after this happened and said I made a mistake," Richardson told Meet the Press. "We need to fix it."
In addition, Richardson called on the governor to take further action to repeal HB 2. Last week McCrory issued an executive order in response to the backlash over the transphobic legislation.
The governor released a video claiming that he would be "taking action to affirm and improve the state's commitment to privacy and equality." In reality, the order changed almost nothing. The provisions denying transgender people access to the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity remained intact.
"I think the governor needs to go farther than where he's gone, and I hope he will," Richardson told Todd. "I really want to be part of the solution to this. It has hurt our credibility in the nation so bad and hurt our businesses. We just can't afford to lose these jobs."
Despite Richardson's plea, McCrory appears unlikely to budge. The governor appeared on Meet the Press just two days after Richardson to defend anti-trans language in HB 2.
In a Sunday interview, McCrory said, "What we've got to do is deal with this extremely new social norm that has come to our nation at a very quick period of time, and have these discussions about the complexity of equality while also balancing the concept of privacy, including even privacy in the most private of areas of our life, which is a restroom, locker room, or shower facility in our high schools."