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Dueling lawsuits filed over N.C. law
2016-05-11

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The Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch filed a lawsuit May 9 against North Carolina authorities—hours after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice, asking a federal court to rule that the state's so-called "bathroom law" is not discriminatory.

At a press conference, Lynch said, "This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens, and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them—indeed, to protect all of us. 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.

"This is not a time to act out of fear. This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion, and open-mindedness. What we must not do—what we must never do—is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human."

The U.S. Justice Department recently ruled that the North Carolina law HB 2, which limits protections to LGBT people, violates federal civil-rights laws such as Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act. The lawsuit came hours before a deadline the Justice Department set for McCrory to say that he would overturn the law.

Earlier on May 9, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal—who are challenging HB 2 in federal court on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina—released a joint statement regarding McCrory's lawsuit.

They said, "While transgender people in North Carolina remain in the perilous position of being forced to avoid public restrooms or risk violation of state law, Governor McCrory has doubled down on discrimination against them. The federal government made clear that HB 2's mandate of discrimination against transgender people violates federal civil rights laws but McCrory and other political leaders in the state have decided to risk federal funding to maintain that discrimination.

"The U.S. Department of Justice has made clear that Governor McCrory's HB2 is a discriminatory and dangerous piece of legislation that violates federal civil rights laws," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin about the more recent suit. "Rather than working with state lawmakers to fix the mess he's created, Governor McCrory is instead choosing to waste even more time and millions more of taxpayer dollars trying to defend his indefensible attack on transgender people."


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