North Carolina Sues United States Over Anti-LGBT Legislation
North Carolina Sues United States Over Anti-LGBT Legislation

North Carolina’s Governor has continued to defend the discriminatory law.

The fight over North Carolina’s discriminatory House Bill 2 (HB2), popularly known as the “bathroom bill,” reached boiling point on Monday, with the United States Justice Department and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory both filed lawsuits over the issue.

The lawsuits came just days after the Justice Department ordered North Carolina to reverse HB2, which was passed in March. The Governor was given until close of business Monday to respond.

North Carolina’s lawsuit argues that the new law that bans transgender people from using public restrooms that don’t match with the gender identified on their birth certificate does not violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

McCrory told reporters, “Ultimately, I think it’s time for the U.S. Congress to bring clarity to our national anti-discrimination provisions. Right now, the Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law.”

His statement echoes the lawsuit that accuses the federal government of a “baseless and blatant overreach” with a “radical reinterpretation” of the Civil Rights Act.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch of the Justice Department responded that the North Carolina law is prohibited under the federal civil rights law that protects people against discrimination based on sex.

Lynch said in a news conference, “They created state-sponsored discrimination against transgendered individuals who seek to engage in the most private of functions in a place of safety and security.”

She compared the bill to Jim Crow laws, which were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern States until 1965. “It was not very long ago that states, including North Carolina, had signs above restrooms, water fountains and on public accommodations keeping people out based upon a distinction without a difference,” she said.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit includes the state’s Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina.

President of the UNC 17 campus system, Margaret Spellings, responded on Monday, saying the university takes “its obligations to comply with federal non-discrimination statutes” very seriously, and will have a special board meeting of governors. She also noted that the university “is truly caught in the middle,” because the school must adhere to state laws, including HB2.

The Education Department has been reviewing funds and discussing whether to withhold federal education funding from the state, a move seen back in the 1960s. The state currently receives more than $4 billion for education, with most of the money going towards scholarships.

The Governor’s move has been widely criticised. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said the supporters of HB2 were “asserting that this mean-spirited law is somehow consistent with the Civil Rights Act and with our values.”

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who will run against McCrory in November, said he will not defend the law. He stated that the governor was “pouring gas on the fire that he lit,” adding, “Instead of doing what’s right for our state, he’s doubling down on what he knows he did wrong. Enough is enough.”