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DOJ sues North Carolina over transgender bathroom law

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory commented on House Bill 2, on May 4, which limits protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, while speaking during a government affairs conference in Raleigh, N.C. McCrory showed no signs of backing down in the face of the federal government’s deadline today to declare he won’t enforce the new state law.

RALEIGH, N.C. » A potentially epic clash over transgender rights took shape today when the U.S. Justice Department sued North Carolina over the state’s new bathroom law.

In unusually forceful language, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said North Carolina’s law requiring transgender people to use the public restroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate amounts to “state-sponsored discrimination” and is aimed at “a problem that doesn’t exist.”

She said it serves only to “harm innocent Americans.”

Billions of dollars in state aid for North Carolina — and a potentially landmark decision regarding the reach of the nation’s civil rights laws — are at stake in the dispute, which in recent weeks has triggered boycotts and cancellations aimed at getting the state to repeal the measure that took effect in March.

Last week, the U.S. Justice Department said the law amounts to illegal sex discrimination against transgender people and gave Gov. Pat McCrory until today to say he would refuse to enforce it.

McCrory instead doubled down by filing a federal lawsuit today arguing that the North Carolina law is a “commonsense privacy policy” and that the Justice Department’s position is “baseless and blatant overreach.”

“This is not a North Carolina issue. It is now a national issue,” said McCrory, a Republican who is up for re-election in November, declared at a news conference.

The governor accused the Obama administration of unilaterally rewriting federal civil rights law to protect transgender people’s access to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers across the country.

Later in the day, the Justice Department responded by suing North Carolina, seeking a court order declaring the law discriminatory and unenforceable.

Lynch spoke directly to residents of her native state, saying they have been falsely told by North Carolina proponents that the law protects vulnerable people from harm in bathrooms.

“Instead, what this law does, is inflict further indignity on a population that has already suffered far more than its fair share,” she said. “This law provides no benefit to society, and all it does it is harm innocent Americans.”

Defenders of the law have argued that it necessary to protect the safety and privacy of people in bathrooms. Opponents have argued that the danger of a transgender person molesting a child in a restroom is all but nonexistent.

Stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam have canceled shows in North Carolina over the new law. PayPal abandoned a planned 400-employee operation center in Charlotte, and Deutsche Bank froze expansion plans near Raleigh.

Nearly 200 corporate leaders from across the country, including Charlotte-based Bank of America, have urged the law’s repeal, arguing it is bad for business because it makes recruiting talented employees more difficult.

Several other states have proposed similar laws in recent months limiting protections for gay, bisexual and transgender people. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi today sued that state over a law that will allow workers to cite their religious objections to gay marriage to deny services to people.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat running against McCrory for governor, has refused to defend the law, which was passed in reaction to a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

Lynch likened her agency’s involvement in the North Carolina law to the shifting expansion of civil rights that scrapped legal racial segregation and prohibitions against gay marriage.

“This is about the dignity and the respect that we accord our fellow citizens,” Lynch said. “It’s about the founding ideals that have led this country, haltingly but inexorably in the direction of fairness, inclusion and equality for all Americans.”

The new North Carolina law also excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from state anti-discrimination protection and bars local governments from adopting their own anti-bias measures.

The Justice Department noted a ruling last month by a federal appeals court that a transgender Virginia high school student has a right to use bathrooms that correspond with his new identity. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is binding on five states, including North Carolina. Virginia is seeking a re-hearing by the entire appeals court.

The U.S. Education Department and other federal agencies could try to cut off money to North Carolina to force compliance.

The state university system risks losing more than $1.4 billion in federal funds. An additional $800 million in federally backed loans for students who attend the public universities could also be at risk.

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    • To fight against dictatorial – – an unconstitutional – – federal over-reach by the Executive Branch (& thereby poaching on Congress’ turf and the rights of sovereign states) is money well spent.

      The current occupant of the White House badly needs this basic lesson in civics to curb his endless appetite for being treated like a monarch.

      Well done, Tarheels!

      Stay the course.

      • Thos Yes fight against something that hasn’t ever happened according to law enforcement officials across the land. Really, losing millions from lost business and now gov’t funding all for the sake of this stupid bathroom law? You’re ok with that?

        • Are you “OK” with the Ninth Amendment? The Tenth?

          If so, then what is your beef with North Carolina?

          This emphatically is NOT a civil rights issue.

          It is a STATE’S RIGHT issue – – and it should be left up to the people of each sovereign state to decide how they want to populate their public lavatories.

          The federal government has no business telling people where they can and cannot do THEIR business.

          The words “bathroom” and “gender” appear nowhere in the Constitution.

    • TutuLois, North Carolina in this case filed the suit to protect all Americans. It’s Obama and Lynch who caused the law suit. Weak administration attempting to go against the U.S. Constitution.

    • Wrightj, sorry but the Obama administration are breaking all the records of having their administrative orders and directives overturned and reversed. The current Feds (2008 – 2016) have reversed the trend.

  • Follow the law, all 50 States must comply…………Thank you, to all the supporter’s in protecting the LGBT; and stop anymore discrimination.

    • I do so love it when a member of the privileged LGBT cohort who has donned the sacred mantle of victim-hood tells straight people what they MUST do.

      The reason we are in this muddle to begin with is because way too many straight people have curled up in a ball and whined instead of counter-punching when their Constitutional freedoms – – e.g. freedom of speech, freedom of association – – were infringed upon by bullies in the name of (get this) TOLERANCE.

      Until straight people develop the cojones to fight for the freedom that was GIVEN to them, they do not deserve to be a free people, but instead richly deserve to be crushed mercilessly under the heel of LGBT despots and tyrants.

        • Maybe it is time for straight folk to quit retreating and instead stand their ground to defend the freedoms that are rightfully theirs but that are now being eaten away under constant assault by the ‘take no prisoners’ attitude of the LGBT cohort.

  • Discrimination is wrong. The federal government will win this one and the poor bigots in North Carolina will be out hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted tax dollars. I wonder if the governor is planning some discriminating legislation against Jews or Asians next.

    • Easy to toss the B-word around. Equally easy to roll out the tattered race and Nazi cards. You’ve just got the roles reversed/mixed up.

      • When the federal government says it’s “state sponsored discrimination” it’s time for all the bigots to toss in the towel and realize that the federal government doesn’t put Japanese Americans in concentration camps anymore and treating folks differently because they don’t look or act like us is wrong. This time they are on the right side of history unlike our poor uneducated friend “Winston”.

        • So Mr. Mililani how is this discrimination if someone is allowed to use a restroom? So should straight men be able to use a women’s restroom? Should the same be said for straight women? Why would that not be discrimination according to your logic. I think that we need to address this issue and find a long term solution to this, but you are sacrificing the rights of the many for the rights of the vocal few.

        • MrMililani says it is OK for a man posing as a woman to use his male instrument in a women’s bathroom.

        • This law has little if anything to do with bathrooms. It’s a law to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. The real reason this law came about is because it’s an election year and the Republicans needed a hot button issue to bring out their base and vote since many fear that the congress will have a Democratic majority when Clinton wins the election. The only people who have been arrested in bathrooms are Republican politicians like Larry “wide stance” Craig. Republican money people are not backing Trump. It has everything to do with fear and that always brings out the base in both parties.

  • I don’t understand what’s going on here. Does this mean that in states other than North Carolina people can go into the restroom/lockeroom of their choice, male or female, as long as they declare it to be their sexual orientation? No other proof necessary?

    • McCrory instead doubled down by filing a federal lawsuit today arguing that the North Carolina law is a “commonsense privacy policy” and that the Justice Department’s position is “baseless and blatant overreach.”

      If NC’s counter-suit prevails, that judicial success will put some teeth back into the 9th and 10th amendments – – a consummation devoutly to be wished.

      As for McCrory, GOOD ON YA, MATE!

  • The restroom issue revolves around Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1964 which says in part that no person in the United States, based on their sex, shall be excluded from participation in or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The law is quite clear, the exclusion or discrimination must be based on sex of which there have been only two since humans were created – male and female. However, in 2014 the Obama administration gave sex a new definition, meaning or interpretation by asserting that sex includes transgenders. This was an administrative action and not a changed to the law. Nevertheless, the Obama administration is using its interpretation of sex to push its social agenda on Americans by threatening to withhold financial assistance to states that do not accept its assertion that tansgender is a sex under Title IX. Unfortunately, we are stuck with what Obama and his enablers in DOJ are doing until the several lawsuits challenging the ruling work their way through the courts to the Supreme Court or, alternatively, Congress amends the law to define sex as biological sex, i.e., based on one genitalia.

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