The North Carolina legislature was due to meet on Wednesday to consider repealing a law restricting bathrooms access for transgender people that has sparked months of protests from critics who see it as an overt act of anti-gay discrimination.
State lawmakers were summoned back to the capitol after outgoing Republican Governor Pat McCrory called a special session to reconsider the law, which made the state a battleground in the U.S. culture wars over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.
North Carolina in March became the first state to bar transgender people from government-run restrooms that match their gender identity. Pushback against the law has been blamed for hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses, including the relocation of major sporting events.
A surprise push seeking its repeal emerged this week.
On Monday, the city council in Charlotte, the state's largest city, voted to remove local non-discrimination measures that triggered the state's bathroom legislation, while calling for the immediate repeal of the law.
The move persuaded McCrory, who recently lost a tight election seen a referendum on the bathroom law, to act on a longstanding pledge to call lawmakers back to reconsider the issue.
Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper, a fierce critic of the bathroom restrictions, said on Monday that he had Republican assurances for a repeal after Charlotte's action.
Yet supporters of the measure fired back with a lobbying effort to convince conservative lawmakers to block a repeal.
Lawmakers were scheduled to take up the issue beginning at 10 a.m. EST.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Tom Brown)