WASHINGTON Today, the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC issued the following statements in response to the news that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has filed a lawsuit defending his deeply discriminatory HB2.
"North Carolina's HB2 law is blatantly unconstitutional and violates federal civil rights law," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "The Department of Justice has already been clear that it violates the civil rights of North Carolinians. The idea Governor McCrory is going to waste even more time and millions more taxpayer dollars defending it is reckless and wrong. HB2 is a vile law attacking transgender North Carolinians and leaves many more unprotected from discrimination. Rather than defending it, Governor McCrory should be working with state lawmakers to fix the mess he's created."
"The lawsuit that was filed today is just another tactic to delay a decision and is a continued waste of taxpayer dollars when it is already very clear that the only option is a full repeal of HB2," said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. "The 4th circuit court has already provided guidance on this and continued litigation by the state is simply wasteful. The state house and senate must fully repeal HB2 with Governor McCrory's leadership."
North Carolina has already lost more than a half billion dollars - and counting - in economic activity just from companies canceling or reconsidering plans to come to the state, and in cancelled conventions, concerts, and other lost tourism dollars. That doesn't even include potential economic development that now just won't happen in North Carolina because of HB2's discriminatory provisions, or the potential catastrophic loss of federal funding for schools, roads, bridges, and other essential services.
The U.S. Department of Justice determined North Carolina's discriminatory HB 2 violates federal civil rights law including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and gave McCrory and state officials until today to address the situation "by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB 2."
HB2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal education funding at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, convention centers, and airports. It also eliminated the ability of North Carolinians to be able to sue if they experienced discrimination in the workforce, including on the basis of race, religion, national origin and sex. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.
North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota.
ACLU and Lambda Legal Statement on North Carolina's Lawsuit Against Federal Government
RALEIGH North Carolina Gov. McCrory today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice that asks a federal court to determine that House Bill 2, the discriminatory law that removes local legal protections for LGBT people and prohibits transgender people from using public facilities that correspond to their gender identity, does not violate civil rights laws.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice notified Gov. Pat McCrory that the restroom provisions in HB 2 have placed the state in violation of Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal who are challenging House Bill 2 in federal court on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina released the following statement:
"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. Transgender people work for the state of North Carolina, attend school in North Carolina, and are a part of every community across the state. It is unconscionable that the government is placing a target on their backs to advance this discriminatory political agenda. Lawsuits are normally filed to stop discrimination not to continue it."
On April 20, 2016, Joaquin Carcaño, a plaintiff in the ACLU and Lambda Legal case, filed a charge alleging violations of Title VII with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
NCTE Statement on NC Gov. Pat McCrory's HB2 Announcement
Today, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced that he is suing the U.S. Department of Justice, and that the state will not stop implementing HB 2, the state's anti-transgender law. In response to this disappointing but unsurprising development, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said:
"The reality is that HB 2 will be repealed sometime. Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly need to finally show leadership and do the right thing for the people of North Carolina by repealing the law sooner rather than later. It is ridiculous for Gov. McCrory to go as far as he is, spending millions in legal fees to sue the federal government so he can continue actively harming North Carolinians. He's digging his heels in so he can continue to score political points, but it's not going to work.
"Contrary to what Gov. McCrory might like people to believe, HB 2 is completely unprecedented. No law like HB 2 exists in any other state, and for good reason. HB 2 is bad for North Carolinians, and it's bad for North Carolina. Transgender students, who are already vulnerable to bullying, are being bullied by their governor and state legislature.
"HB 2 is illegal and totally indefensible, and it is going to cost the state a huge amount of money and jobs. As NCTE highlighted in the hundreds of letters we mailed to relevant state and local agencies last April, and as the Department of Justice made clear last week, HB 2 violates several important federal laws. This means that North Carolina stands to lose over $1 billion in federal funding, from federal contracts, to education funding, to grants given under the Violence Against Women Act. What's more, the state's own Attorney General has rightly refused to defend North Carolina in lawsuits against HB 2, meaning that the state will spend even more money in legal fees.
"Gov. McCrory, Sen. Berger, and Speaker Moore could save their state so much money and so much grief by just admitting their mistake and showing leadership by repealing HB 2."
Please also find below NCTE's new resource, "McCrory's Myths: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's favorite talking points about HB2and why they're wrong."
Myth: 29 states have laws similar to North Carolina's.
No other state has a law like HB2it's completely unprecedented. Letting transgender people use the right restroom is required in every state under federal law, and only North Carolina has actively flouted the law by restricting transgender people's restroom access. While 18 states and DC have laws that affirm the rights that transgender people already have under federal law, the 29 remaining states simply haven't passed any legislation about this, meaning that they're letting federal law stand.
Myth: Five days isn't enough time for Governor McCrory to disavow HB2.
Gov. McCrory signed this law late at night after it was rushed through the legislature in a matter of hours. Meanwhile, the federal government, North Carolinians, and advocates around the country have spent weeks exposing HB2's harms. The claim that Gov. McCrory hasn't had enough time to understand why passing HB2 was a mistake is absurd.
Myth: The Department of Justice's letter is "baseless and blatant overreach."
The Department of Justice is simply enforcing well-established federal nondiscrimination law. The real government overreach was HB2 itself. When Charlotte's elected government did exactly what it told voters it was going to do and passed a straightforward nondiscrimination ordinance, the North Carolina government swooped in to overturn itand what's more, it stripped local governments of their power to pass any more nondiscrimination ordinances, protect their constituents from harmful workplace conditions, or even take nondiscrimination principles into account when doing business with private contractors.
Myth: Restroom access was never an issue until Charlotte's ordinance was passed.
Transgender people have been using the restroom that matches their gender for years all around the country, including in North Carolina. That hasn't harmed anyoneincluding in the more than 250 cities with ordinances like the one that Charlotte passed. In fact, the opposite is true: transgender people's everyday restroom use was never an issue until Gov. McCrory made it one.
Myth: This is a commonsense matter of safety and privacy.
The real experts on preventing sexual violenceover 300 anti-sexual assault and anti-domestic violence groupshave flatly rejected the claim that excluding transgender people from restroom that match their gender somehow protects other people's privacy or safety. "Those who perpetuate falsehoods about transgender people and nondiscrimination laws are putting transgender people in harm's way and making no one safer," they said. "We cannot stand by while the needs of survivors, both those who are transgender and those who are not, are obscured in order to push a political agenda that does nothing to serve and protect victims and potential victims."
Myth: Most people support the restroom restrictions placed on transgender people by HB2.
Americans oppose discriminatory requirements like those established by HB2 by a wide margin, according to a new CNN poll. And almost half of North Carolinians are opposed to HB2 and believe that it has not made the state any safer, and most believe that it's having a negative impact on North Carolina's economy. Governor McCrory's claim that HB2 is in line with what North Carolinians want is simply false.
Myth: Transgender people are not protected under federal nondiscrimination law.
The vast majority of federal courts that have ruled on this issue, as well as the Attorney General and agencies across the federal government, have been saying for years that federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination make it illegal to discriminate against transgender people. That's nothing new. Federal courts have recognized that sex discrimination necessarily includes discrimination based on gender identity and transgender status, and that claiming otherwise doesn't make any sense. In fact, the federal appeals court whose jurisdiction includes North Carolina recently agreed that federal law protects transgender people's right to use the restroom matching their gender. Gov. McCrory's lawsuit relies on a handful of outdated cases whose attempts to cut transgender people out of nondiscrimination laws have been rejected by the majority of federal courts.
Here are just a few of the cases recognizing that transgender people are protected under federal law:
G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board (Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2016)
Fabian v. Hospital of Central Connecticut (Connecticut Federal District Court, 2016)
Rumble v. Fairview Health Service (Minnesota Federal District Court, 2015)
Finkle v. Howard County (Maryland Federal District Court, 2014)
Glenn v. Brumby (Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, 2011)
Mitchell v. Axcan Scandiphar (Pennsylvania Federal District Court, 2006)
Barnes v. Cincinnati (Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2005)
Smith v. City of Salem (Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2004)
Rosa v. Park West Bank & Trust Company (First Circuit Court of Appeals, 2000)
Schwenk v. Hartford (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1999)