North Carolina Attorney General Won’t Defend Transgender Law in Court
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says he will not defend a new state law that bars Charlotte and other local governments from approving protections for LGBT people.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Cooper called the measure discriminatory and a “national embarrassment.”
“Not only is this new law a national embarrassment, it will set North Carolina’s economy back if we don’t’ repeal it,” Cooper said. “We know that businesses here and all over the country have taken a strong stance in opposition to this law.”
The news comes as a powerful coalition of corporate leaders and LGBT activists are moving to undo the North Carolina measure.
Both state houses overwhelmingly passed House Bill 2, known as the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, and Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law last week. The law overrides a Charlotte ordinance giving people permission to use a public bathroom of their choice regardless of gender.
LGBT activists filed a lawsuit Monday, labeling the law discriminatory and claiming it targets LGBT people for “disfavored treatment.”
“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 lawsuit said.
In addition, the mayors of Seattle, San Francisco and the governor of New York have banned non-essential publicly funded travel to North Carolina. And the NBA is threatening to move its 2017 all-star game out of Charlotte.
Supporters of the new law say it will protect all people from using bathrooms with others who cause them to feel unsafe.
Evangelist Franklin Graham spoke out against the Charlotte ordinance.
“Are people just not thinking clearly?” he asked on Facebook. “This law would allow pedophiles, perverts, and predators into women’s bathrooms. This is wicked and it’s filthy.”
“To think that my granddaughters could go into a restroom and a man be in there exposing himself…what are we setting our children and grandchildren up for? There’s not a public restroom in Charlotte that would be safe!” he continued.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights supporters say North Carolina state legislators made false claims about bathroom risks.
Under the new state law, all cities and counties are not allowed to extend protections to cover sexual orientation and gender identity at restaurants, hotels and stores.
Two transgender people, a lesbian law professor, and several civil liberties groups filed the lawsuit. The defendants include Gov. McCrory, Attorney General Roy Cooper and the University of North Carolina system. Cooper actually opposes the new law but his office is required to defend the state.
According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, the law makes North Carolina the first state in which public school and university students only can use bathrooms that line up with their birth certificates.
The plaintiffs — UNC-Chapel Hill employee Joaquin Carcano and Payton Grey McGarry, a student at UNC-Greensboro — were both born female but now view themselves as male. They have not changed their birth certificates.
Under the new law, a transgender person could only use the bathroom that matches gender identity if he or she underwent a medical sex change and then altered their birth certificate to reflect that change.
The lawsuit states the new law goes against provisions of equal protection. According to the lawsuit, Carcano used a men’s restroom at work and McGarry used a campus locker room without any obstacles before the law went into effect.
“This is so much more than a restroom,” Carcano said. “This is about dignity, about respect. It’s about valuing us as a broader part of the North Carolina community.”
The lawsuit states that using restrooms designated for women could cause them fear and anxiety. The suit also says they’ll now have to find bathrooms in other buildings or at businesses in the area.
North Carolina Values Coalition says the lawsuit is frivolous. Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the organization, said it was filed by “groups that represent radical extremists who want to allow grown men to shower and use the bathroom next to little girls.”
In Georgia this week, similar pressure led the governor to veto a severely watered down religious liberty bill.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to is outraged. We really are because we’re surprised that the governor would bow down to Hollywood, the NFL,” Garland Hunt, pastor of the The Father’s House, said.
Hunt says Christians in Georgia are now rallying to reverse what the governor has done.
Meanwhile in North Carolina, they’re hoping the governor won’t give in, despite enormous pressure to reverse the new law.
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