North Carolina wanted its reputation back.
Worn down by about a year of battles and boycotts, its leaders cut a deal in March to repeal a law that had restricted restroom access for transgender people. But North Carolina is finding that it is easier to plunge into a culture war than it is to leave one behind.
“This isn’t like the Cold War where it came, it went, it was over and people didn’t worry about it anymore,” a longtime Republican strategist, Carter Wrenn, said.
The day-to-day debate, Democrats and Republicans often note, has receded, and the national uproar that buffeted North Carolina beginning in March 2016 has largely abated. Still, a battered and weary state is slogging through a landscape of residual damage that some observers warn will not fade quickly.
The state’s most powerful elected officials just recently sparred, in effect, over the matter of who should be allowed to use which restrooms in publicly owned buildings. The politics of House Bill 2, as the now-repealed law is still commonly known, has also touched mayoral races in Charlotte and Raleigh. States like California and New York have kept their bans on public employees using tax dollars for nonessential trips to North Carolina. And some transgender residents remain so anxious that they time meals to avoid the need to use public restrooms.
In a state where partisan rancor is a bipartisan pastime, people still marvel at how quickly and broadly H.B. 2, which required people in publicly owned buildings to use the restroom that corresponded with the gender listed on their birth certificate, reshaped perceptions of North Carolina. Read more via New York Times