Lawsuit challenges North Carolina anti-discrimination law just passed

Lawsuit challenges North Carolina anti-discrimination law just passed
March 31
00:00 2016
Photo by Chris Seward/The News & Observer via AP
Joaquin Carcano, center, the lead plaintiff in the case, speaks during a press conference to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh, N.C., on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. Joaquin was born a woman and is now a man. Simone Bell with Lambda Law is at left; Chris Brook with the ACLU is at right.



RALEIGH — Gay and transgender rights supporters wasted little time in challenging a new North Carolina law, filing a federal lawsuit Monday that called it discriminatory and said it singles out LGBT people for “disfavored treatment.”

The law, which has also drawn strong opposition from major corporations including Apple and Google, was signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory last week.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is challenging McCrory for governor, spoke out against House Bill 2 Tuesday morning during a press conference, saying his office “will not defend the constitutionality of the discrimination in House Bill 2.”

Cooper said HB2 conflicts with specific employment policies that are in place to protect workers based on gender identity.

“We will argue it is unconstitutional as part of our defense of existing employment policies in the Attorney General’s and State Treasurer’s Office,” Cooper said.

There were calls for his resignation from Republican officials.

The GOP-controlled legislature passed the law in response to a broad Charlotte ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity. The new state law also prevents all cities and counties from extending protections to cover sexual orientation and gender identity at restaurants, hotels and stores.

“By singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law, (the new law) violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution,” the lawsuit said.

With the law, North Carolina became the first state to require public school and university students to use only those bathrooms that match their birth certificates, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.

Advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights say state legislators demonized them with bogus claims about bathroom risks. Supporters say the new law protects all people from having to share bathrooms with people who make them feel unsafe.

Two transgender people, a lesbian law professor and several civil liberties groups sued.

Lawsuit defendants include McCrory and the University of North Carolina system, where one plaintiff works and another attends college. The system’s 17 campuses also must comply with the law.

Another defendant is Cooper, a Democrat who has criticized the law and wants it repealed. He is challenging McCrory this fall for governor. Cooper is a defendant because his office defends the state in litigation.

Two plaintiffs – UNC-Chapel Hill employee Joaquin Carcano of Carrboro and Payton Grey McGarry, a student at UNC-Greensboro – were born female and now consider themselves male but have not changed their birth certificates.

McCrory’s office issued the following statement on the lawsuit on HB2.

“The governor respects the right of any legal challenges; however, he does not respect the continued distortion of the facts by the groups challenging this law and by many members of the state and national media” said Graham Wilson, the governor’s press secretary.

”To counter a coordinated national effort to mislead the public, intimidate our business community and slander our great state, the governor will continue to set the record straight on a common sense resolution to local government overreach that imposed new regulations on businesses that intruded into the personal lives of our citizens. The non-discrimination policies in place today in cities like Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville and in every business in North Carolina are the same as they were last month and last year”.

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