On Monday, the state of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, who requested that Gov. Pat McCrory reconsider the allegedly discriminatory "bathroom bill." On behalf of the U.S. Justice Department, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta addressed a letter to Gov. McCrory on Wednesday, accusing him of violating the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments from 1972. In that letter, Gupta also requested the McCrory respond by Monday and ensure that the state won't implement HB 2 and would allow employees of the state and public agencies to access bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. The agency threatened to pull federal education funding if Gov. McCrory fails to comply by the guidelines. In Gov. McCrory's lawsuit, the letter is referred to as a "a baseless and blatant overreach." McCrory replied with a lawsuit that accused the Justice Department of overreach and asked that a court declare the law not discriminatory. (Read the full letter here.) Update: On Monday, the Department of Justice counter-sued North Carolina over HB 2, with a statement that the bathroom law denying transgender individuals use of public bathrooms.
In March 2016, North Carolina passed a bill known as HB2 that targets transgender individuals by prohibiting them from entering public restrooms that do not match their biological sex. The law also bans cities from using local ordinances to enforce nondiscrimination laws. Initially, the piece of legislation was prompted by an ordinance in Charlotte that allowed transgender individuals to use the restroom with which they identify. As the issue became more public, the dispute over the protection of LGBT rights became increasingly intense.
On one side, supporters of the bill accuse the Justice Department of using its federal power to influence state legislation. Joseph Backholm, director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, framed the decision as an overreach in a conversation with The Washington Times.
Bullies gonna bully. The idea that the federal government is going to stop education for children because they let boys into the girls' locker room while they're undressing? The public will not stand for that.
Similarly to Backholm, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore led reporters to believe the state of North Carolina was going to put up a fight.
That deadline will come and go. Obviously, we don't ever want to lose any money, but we're not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday's date. That's not how this works.
Many others maintain the piece of legislation is a gross injustice and misguided. In other states where such laws don't exist, for example, transgender men and women have always used the public restroom with which they identify. Katherine Franke, director of Columbia Law School's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, told USA Today that the argument is irrationally focused on safety concerns as opposed to the danger of perpetuating gender stereotypes.
The anxiety isn't men in women's bathrooms, it's about masculinity in the wrong place. It's portrayed as a threat to women, but on a much deeper level, it's about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.
On Friday, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts spoke out strongly against the bill and supported the Justice Department in its letter. The mayor has been opposed to the discriminatory bill since it was passed.
We cannot write discrimination back into our laws. The General Assembly and Governor must comply with the Department of Justice and repeal HB2 immediately.
The state of North Carolina and the federal government have yet to come to an agreement.