Our Opinion: A bad precedent and a bad law in North Carolina

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Barring last minute obstacles, North Carolina's discriminatory law limiting gender rights will be repealed Wednesday. Republican legislators are going along grudgingly but earlier this month they took their pound of flesh out of the new Democratic governor, an advocate of repeal, in nakedly partisan fashion.

Following the narrow victory of Democrat Roy Cooper over Republican incumbent Pat McGrory, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a package of restrictions on the power of the governor's office. Among the changes, governors have been stripped of their power to appoint a majority to the State Board of Elections and the governor's appointees are subject to approval by the State Senate, which currently has a veto-roof Republican majority.

The assertion of Republican lawmakers that they are addressing past overreaches by Democratic governors and legislators would have credibility if they had taken these actions when a Republican was governor. This is nothing more than a shameful power grab, and when elected officials put politics above government a precedent is set that weakens our democratic system. That should trouble Republicans, Democrats, independents and every American worried about the partisanship that is poisoning our government.

As attorney general, Governor-elect Cooper was a leading opponent of the law curbing legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The so-called "bathroom law" controversially requires people to use restrooms that correspond with their birth gender. The law was passed in March after the city of Charlotte approved an anti-discrimination ordinance, and as a quid pro quo for Republican support of the repeal, Charlotte rescinded that law on Monday. Still, some Republicans remain reluctant to repeal the state law in a special session called by Governor McGrory.

North Carolina took an economic pounding after Governor McGrory signed the law. Companies abandoned plans to bring business and jobs to the state, Bruce Springsteen and other performers canceled concerts, the NBA shifted its 2017 All-Star game to New Orleans and the Atlantic Coast Conference announced it would pull championship games from the state.

Lawmakers learned that there is a tangible price to be paid for denying people their civil rights, and that lesson should be heeded everywhere in the nation. Economics aside, however, the anti-gender rights law is un-American at its roots, and its repeal - whether Wednesday or later - will be welcome.


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