Five NC House Democrats have now signed on as cosponsors of Son of HB2, House Bill 186.
Besides primary cosponsors Marvin Lucas and Ken Goodman, Reps. George Graham, Edward Hanes Jr, and Rodney Moore want to lend a more bipartisan sheen to a naked attempt to repeal, then re-pass, HB2.
Rep. Chuck McGrady, the Republican slathering lipstick across the pig he has reared for ten months (after missing the vote last March 23), is at least being candid about why HB 186 seeks to replace the denial of discrimination protection under HB2 with the same denial of protection under his bill: Republicans get votes discriminating.
"We don't have the votes to do a straight-up repeal," he said.
Asked why LGBT individuals were not included in the statewide nondiscrimination portion of the bill, he cited the same reason.
"Because I can't get the votes to go there. That would not allow me to pass a bill," McGrady said.But there's more to it, as usual.
The rest of these bipartisan Democrats backing HB 186 seem like a bunch of loony toons until you look at what they have in common.
All five ran unopposed last year.
They can parade around as heroes: they want to preserve the General Assembly grip on bathroom use, get the new businesses back, get the sports back, and "restore the status quo."
That status quo, of course, leaves LGBT North Carolinians fair game for whatever God says is OK. But there will be no consequences for the newly formed Moral Invertebrates' Caucus.
And it could be a winning strategy: 27 Republicans and 31 Democrats now serving in the House all ran unopposed. If they all decide they are bulletproof, only three votes need to be rounded up to send it over to the Senate, where Phil Berger has his members' genitals in a lock box until the current session ends.
Here's the five profiles in cynicism so far:
Goodman, a very conservative DINO who represents an absurdly gerrymandered squiggle of Hoke, Montgomery, Richmond, Scotland and Robeson counties, voted for HB2 last year, one of eleven Democrats to cross the aisle.
He told Indy Week he was only in favor of the bathroom part of HB2 because it was what his constituents wanted, and he was sticking by that.
So now he wants to repeal what he was for, and replace it with a new law that retains in himself and his colleagues the regulation of bathrooms statewide (they don't care to make them any cleaner, though, that would be government overreach, as former House Speaker-turned-Senator Thom Tillis called making restaurant workers wash up after doing their business on the job*). The exclusion of LGBT residents from the state's antidiscrimination law remains in HB 186, which he is for, having said of the rest of HB2 he thought needed another look last year:
"I have a sincerely held belief that bathrooms should be private and that they shouldn't be shared by people of the opposite sex; that was the only part of the bill I was interested in, and I believe the constituents in my district feel the same way. ...
"I didn't get to write the bill, so you don't get exactly what you want all the time. The only part of the bill I was interested in was the transgender bathroom issue. ... I think section three-point-two will need another look, which is the right to sue in state court. That eliminates the state remedy for workers being fired for wrongful termination. I would prefer that not be in the bill.
"I have gotten a lot of assumptions made that the vote was bigoted, and I certainly don't want to discriminate against anybody. ... I understand how people feel hurt on the bill, but people have sincere beliefs, and that was my reason for voting."Now he's narrowed his concerns:
Goodman told the Raleigh newspaper HB186 “was just to move the ball and start a conversation done in a bipartisan way.”
“Our hope is that we can get something that will remove the sanctions from the NCAA and ACC and some of the business people who have stayed away ... that will be a good thing.”Ken Goodman won his fourth term unopposed in 2016.
Marvin Lucas, of Cumberland County, brags, "I am the only Cumberland County legislator who voted against the bill when it first came before the General Assembly."
So now Lucas is front and center for a bill to re-enact the discrimination he voted against HB2 over.
Marvin Lucas was re-elected unopposed in November 2016.
George Graham, of Greene, Lenoir, and Craven counties, was another of the eleven Democrats who voted to pass HB2 in 2016, and pretty damned craven in his own right.
When Indy Week tried to find out why he supported HB2, they reported,
he told a Charlotte Observer reporter he was basically a clueless git:
Rep. George Graham of Lenoir County, a black Democrat who voted for HB2, said he didn’t know until after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed the five-page bill into law that it dealt with any other issue besides transgender people using bathrooms.
Asked about the bill’s impact on minimum wage and the state’s Equal Employment Protection Act, Graham said he’s now studying the issue.
“I’m getting around to getting that information now,” he said. “I don’t know a lot about it.”
Graham added: “I would never, ever do anything that would ever short-change or deny the black community (or other people).”Which is, unfortunately, what said Clueless Git is doing supporting HB 186.
George Graham was re-elected unopposed last November. He only needed just over 4,000 votes.
Rodney Moore, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, voted against HB2 last year. He must not think he has many LGBT constituents in one of the most LGBT-populous areas in the state, and the only city with the guts to stand up for equality. He, too, is now shilling a bill that will repass what he opposed last year.
Rodney Moore was re-elected unopposed last year.
Edward Hanes Jr.
And at last we come to Rep. Edward Hanes, Jr of Forsyth County- Wake Forest University and its environs is his constituency.
Hanes told The Observer last year that he opposed HB2 because of how it removed state residents' right to sue over employment discrimination in state courts.
“It’s not getting enough attention .... And it’s exactly why I voted no twice on the bill,” said Rep. Ed Hanes, a Democrat from Winston-Salem. “I don’t think people understood the impact of what they were doing.”Why HB 186? Hanes says it's just to back in the show in a GOP-controlled General Assembly:
Hanes said Thursday his support for HB186 comes in part from "having leadership from ranking Republicans and respected members of the Democratic caucus working together toward resolution."
"My position has been clear," Hanes said. "I want repeal of (HB2). This bill represents the best chance we've had in many months to do just that and put this chapter of our state's history to rest. We ought to take advantage of it...while "we're not married to every provision in the bill by any means, it is a great beginning for conversation."And to take advantage of the opportunity to do some window-dressing, Hanes is perfectly down with taking advantage of LGBT North Carolinians.
He must have thought that "married" line really clever.
Edward Hanes Jr was re-elected without opposition last November, which makes his HB 186 hypocrisy penalty-free.
*It's an awkward reframing of the common law doctrine of unclean hands.