Democratic North Carolina state rep: 'I was wrong' to vote for transphobic 'bathroom bill'


Fallout from North Carolina’s recent passage of HB2—the anti-trans “Bathroom Bill”—continues, and one local lawmaker seems to have gotten the message loud and clear.

In an op-ed for the Feyetteville Observer published late Monday evening, state representative William Richardson does not mince words, writing, “By enacting House Bill 2, the legislature did the wrong thing. I made the wrong vote and we must now make it right.

“Upon prayer and reflection, I have come to realize that I need to take action now,” Richardson explained. “I will not be silent and allow North Carolina’s values to be undermined by the travesty that is HB2.”

It’s a bold declaration from one of the 11 Democratic representatives who originally supported the bill, which (among other things) mandates transgender and gender non-conforming individuals use public restrooms that align with the sex listed on their birth certificate. When contacted in late March by the Durham, NC-based Indy Week, Richardson did not reply to multiple requests for comment on his support for the bill.

Richardson’s editorial cites the bill’s giving a “green light” to discrimination, and pointedly calls out the new law’s economic impact, as well, saying jobs that had been intended for North Carolina may be relocated to neighboring states, instead. Earlier this month, online transaction giant PayPal announced it had canceled plans to open a new global operations center in Charlotte that would have reportedly created 400 new jobs as a direct response to HB2.

As The Charlotte Observer noted earlier this month, it’s the bill’s economic ramifications which may have prompted at least one GOP lawmaker, State Sen. Jeff Tarte, to consider revisiting the legislation, saying, “I don’t want men in girls’ showers; that’s not negotiable. (But) you can’t have jobs not coming here. … So is (there) some language that allows us to … get between those two? We can’t ignore this. We need to be listening when these businesses have these kind of concerns.

Richardson, meanwhile, is much less circumspect about his HB2 misgivings.

“I call on my fellow legislators, the speaker, the president pro tem and the governor to repeal this hurtful, overreaching and unnecessary law,” he continues in his op-ed. “When the legislature reconvenes, I will support legislation toward that end.”

Richardson, who represents North Carolina’s 44th district, was appointed to the state legislature in Sept. 2015 to fill a vacancy left by Representative Rick Glazier. He is up for reelection in November.

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