North Carolina Governor And University Sued By Activists Over Anti-LGBT Bill

Early Monday morning, a federal lawsuit against the North Carolina governor and other state officials was filed in order to challenge a recent and controversial law passed in North Carolina, which restricts transgender persons from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. It goes a step further by actively preventing cities from passing any anti-discrimination laws, which would protect members of the LGBT community.

The lawsuit was filed by three individuals – two transgender men and a lesbian – as well as two LGBT advocacy groups, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina. CNN states that the lawsuit’s aim is to have a judge declare the state law, known as House Bill 2, unconstitutional and a violation of the federal laws that banned discrimination based on sex. A press conference was held following the filing of the lawsuit, and those who brought the suit against the anti-LGBT bill sought to outline why this was worth fighting.

The lawsuit puts forth multiple issues with the bill, originally referred to as the transgender bathroom bill, as it was believed to be targeting transgender rights to use the bathroom of the gender identity. It actually undermines and eliminates all protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT).

“While the discriminatory, stated focus of the legislature in passing H.B. 2 – the use of restrooms by transgender people – is on its own illegal and unconstitutional, H.B. 2 in facts wreaks far greater damage by also prohibiting local governments in North Carolina from enacting express anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity… By singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law, H.B. 2 violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution.”

The passing of House Bill 2 was a knee-jerk reaction to combat and render useless the non-discrimination ordinance the City Council of Charlotte passed. Charlotte’s bill would have allowed transgender persons to use public bathrooms that represent the gender they identify with and not necessarily the sex they were assigned at birth, and the opposition was swiftly delivered. Lawmakers’ arguments were that “there is the security risk of a sexual predator, but there is the issue of privacy.” They claimed transgender women, whom they see as “men,” could prey on women and girls in bathrooms. The claim is that it also violates religious freedoms.

However, the amendments they added completely undermines federal protections of non-discrimination, and this is what Monday’s lawsuit is seeking to address. The sweeping generalizations outlined in the bill means that persons would lose the right to sue their workplaces for discrimination based on more than just sexual orientation, and includes race, religion, age, and handicap.

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Buzzfeed News lists the named defendants as Attorney General Roy Cooper, Gov. Pat McCrory, the University of North Carolina itself — which one of the transgender men filing the suit, Payton Grey McGarry, attends and of which lesbian Angela Gilmore is the associate dean for academic affairs — and several of the University’s senior officials.

The lawsuit is seeking to prove that the implementation of the law violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution granting equal protection, privacy, and liberty rights to the people as well as their civil rights as outlined in Title IX of the Education Act of 1972. An injunction against the enforcement of the discriminatory law is the ultimate goal. Hopefully, just as Georgia’s governor announced today that it would not enact the anti-LGBT bill put before him, the outcome of this suit will be favorable.

The plaintiffs hope that the courts will keep the law from being enacted until the case is heard and a verdict, hopefully one that recognizes the violations to human rights that H.B. 2. would create, is released.

[Photo by Toby Talbot/AP]