North Carolina lawmakers reach deal to repeal transgender bathroom law

March 29 (Reuters) - North Carolina Republican lawmakers said late on Wednesday they had reached a deal to repeal the state's controversial law prohibiting transgender people from using restrooms in accordance with their gender identities.

The compromise, reached with Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and set to go before the legislature for a vote Thursday morning, would still ban local municipalities, schools and others from regulating bathroom access.

It would also effectively forbid cities from offering their own job and restroom protections to vulnerable groups for nearly four years.

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Protests for and against gender-neutral bathrooms
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Protests for and against gender-neutral bathrooms

A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Drake)

A man holds up a sign supporting North Carolina's anti-transgender bathroom law following Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump' campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., August 18, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Opponents of North Carolina's HB2 law limiting bathroom access for transgender people protest in the gallery above the state's House of Representatives chamber as the legislature considers repealing the controversial law in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S. on December 21, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Drake)

Civil rights leader Reverend William Barber, president of the NAACP in North Carolina, speaks to the media inside the state's Legislative Building as lawmakers gather to consider repealing the controversial HB2 law limiting bathroom access for transgender people in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S. on December 21, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Drake)

A gender-neutral bathroom is seen at the University of California, Irvine in Irvine, California September 30, 2014. The University of California will designate gender-neutral restrooms at its 10 campuses to accommodate transgender students, in a move that may be the first of its kind for a system of colleges in the United States.

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Transgender people and their supporters have been fighting for repeal of House Bill 2, a North Carolina law that requires people in government buildings to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate.

(John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images)

Protestors gather across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building as they voice their concerns over House Bill 2, in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, May 16, 2016. House Bill 2, also known as the Bathroom Bill, which requires transgender people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate, has received the attention of national media and the White House.

(Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Protestors gather across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building as they voice their concerns over House Bill 2, in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, May 16, 2016. House Bill 2, also known as the Bathroom Bill, which requires transgender people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate, has received the attention of national media and the White House.

(Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Supporter of HB2 Lee Churchill from Raleigh, N.C. holds a sign stating her position outside the North Carolina House and Senate chambers gallery on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 as the North Carolina General Assembly convenes for a special session at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C.

(Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)

Transgender activists and supporters protest potential changes by the Trump administration in federal guidelines issued to public schools in defense of transgender student rights, near the White House in Washington, U.S. February 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Transgender activists and supporters protest potential changes by the Trump administration in federal guidelines issued to public schools in defense of transgender student rights, near the White House in Washington, U.S. February 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Transgender activists and supporters protest potential changes by the Trump administration in federal guidelines issued to public schools in defense of transgender student rights, near the White House in Washington, U.S. February 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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"Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy," the state's top Republican lawmakers, Senate leader Phil Berger and House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore, said in a statement released late Wednesday.

The pair announced the deal at an impromptu news conference.

The compromise with Cooper, a staunch opponent of the bathroom law, was reached hours before the state was reportedly set to lose its ability to host any NCAA basketball championships.

The college athletic association is one of numerous organizations to sanction or boycott North Carolina in the wake of the law's passage last year.

Cooper said earlier this week that the measure could end up costing the state nearly $4 billion.

He said he supported the compromise. "It's not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation."

But it remained unclear whether the compromise would be acceptable to those who believe North Carolina was unfriendly to the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

In an impassioned news conference before the deal was announced, several leading LGBT activists decried its provisions, including the bar on municipalities regulating employment practices and "public accommodations."

"This is a dirty deal," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. He vowed to continue fighting North Carolina in court and in the public sphere if the new measure passes and is signed by Cooper.

On Twitter Wednesday night, San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co., which has publicly opposed North Carolina's transgender bathroom law, urged lawmakers to reject what it called a "backroom" deal.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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