RALEIGH North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory ( R ) today issued an executive order that maintains House Bills 2's provisions that force transgender people to use the wrong restroom while prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees.
The news follows the passage of House Bill 2, a measure that removes existing protections for gay and transgender people, blocks other localities from enacting protections, erodes existing rights for everyone under state nondiscrimination law, and forces transgender individuals to use the wrong restroom in schools and other government buildings.
In response, ACLU of North Carolina Acting Executive Director Sarah Preston said the following:
"Gov. McCrory's actions today are a poor effort to save face after his sweeping attacks on the LGBT community, and they fall far short of correcting the damage done when he signed the harmful House Bill 2 into law which stigmatizes and mandates discrimination against gay and transgender people. With this executive order, LGBT individuals still lack legal protections from discrimination, and transgender people are still explicitly targeted by being forced to use the wrong restroom.
"An impressive and growing number of businesses, faith leaders, and public figures have come out to condemn House Bill 2 as an unnecessary and dangerous measure that unfairly targets gay and transgender people. Regardless of political affiliation, more and more political leaders also understand that discrimination is bad for business and politically toxic. The public believes in equality and fairness and House Bill 2 and measures like it are out of step with the values of most Americans.
"Efforts to divide the LGBT community by extending limited protections but leaving in place the rules mandating discrimination against the transgender community will only strengthen our resolve to fight back against this discriminatory and misguided legislative action. We call on Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina legislature to repeal House Bill 2 and replace it with full non-discrimination protections for all LGBT people."
Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina recently filed a lawsuit challenging House Bill 2. The lawsuit argues that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.
The Obama administration is presently considering whether North Carolina's House Bill 2 makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways, and housing. North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary schools, all of which remains at jeopardy given the state's policy of systemically violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students.
Lambda Legal Responds to North Carolina Executive Order
"The devastating blow of HB 2 will not be fixed by the band-aid of an executive order."
(Raleigh, April 12, 2016) Governor Pat McCrory issued an executive order today banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kyle Palazzolo issued the following statement:
"The devastating blow of HB 2 will not be fixed by the band-aid of an executive order. While this is an improvement for the state employees it impacts, HB 2's reach goes far beyond what the executive order addresses and that's why we are challenging this extreme and discriminatory measurein order to ensure that everyone who lives in and visits North Carolina is protected under the law.
"HB 2 is an attack on fairness in employment, education, and local governance that encourages discrimination against thousands of LGBT people who call North Carolina home, and it particularly targets transgender people.
"This lawsuit is crucial for the entire LGBT community in North Carolina because partial measures, like this executive order, are unacceptable to us, to LGBT North Carolinians, and to others around the country anxious to see an end to these dangerous displays of intolerance.
"Lambda Legal is again calling on North Carolina's leadership to do right by our community and repeal HB 2 and replace it with full non-discrimination protections for all LGBT people."
Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's sweeping anti-LGBT law, HB 2. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina against North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, Attorney General Roy Cooper, and the University of North Carolina, is on behalf of two transgender North Carolinians, Joaquan Carcaño, a UNC-Chapel Hill employee, and Payton McGarry, a UNC-Greensboro student, and Angela Gilmore, a lesbian and North Carolina Central University law professor.
Read more on the case www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/nc_carcano-v-north-carolina .
HRC and Equality North Carolina to McCrory: Executive Order Doubles Down on Most Damaging Provisions of HB 2
Raleigh, N.C. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality North Carolina, the state's leading LGBT advocacy organization, blasted NC Gov. Pat McCrory following his executive order today for his continued failure to lead on the repeal of HB 2.
While the governor's executive order extends protections to state workers, it does nothing to fix the vile and discriminatory provisions he signed into law through HB 2. Under HB 2, transgender people are prohibited from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, including the University of North Carolina campus and the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cities still cannot adopt ordinances designed to prohibit discrimination against their residents and visitors. And, today's action does not undo the damage to the state nondiscrimination laws, which now prevent individuals from bringing suit in state courts.
HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, "The governor's action is an insufficient response to a terrible, misguided law that continues to harm LGBT people on a daily basis. It's absurd that he'll protect people from being fired but will prohibit them from using the employee restroom consistent with their gender identity. The North Carolina Legislature must act to right this wrong as swiftly as possible. They created this horrendous law, and they need to repeal it."
Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro said, "While Governor McCrory's Executive Order creates vital protections in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, it does not address the deep concerns we share with members of the business community and citizens across the state about the damaging impact of HB 2. In fact, the order doubles down on the Governor's support for some of the most problematic provisions of HB 2."
Both HRC and Equality North Carolina continue to call on the governor and North Carolina's elected officials to repeal HB 2.
HB 2 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 funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, publicly-owned airports, and publicly-owned convention centers.
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.
North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies, at risk. This section of HB 2 offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law plus doing the right thing for their students or complying with a state law that violates students' civil rights.
National Center for Trangender Equality's response
NCTE's statement, attributable to our executive director, Mara Keisling:
"It's obvious that Gov. McCrory is trying to save his reputation with this desperate move. His executive order says that transgender state employees are protected from discrimination, but they still can't use the restroom at work. It doesn't make sense. In fact, the order does nothing to change the government-mandated discrimination against all trans people in public buildings across the state. And it doesn't change the fact that most LGBT people in the state still have zero protections against discrimination. If Gov. McCrory thinks anyone is going to fall for this, he has completely underestimated North Carolinians — and the rest of the nation."