The U.S. Department of Justice Sues North Carolina over Controversial LGBT Law

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (WCNC)

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (WCNC)

The federal government has spoken, and it is not happy. Yesterday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the state of North Carolina over its controversial HB2 law.

Quick recap: the non-infamous law bars any anti-discrimination legislation against any members of the LGBT community. Also commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” the law also decrees that any transgender person must use the bathroom of their assigned sex at birth instead of the one with which they identify. (For example, a transwoman would use the men’s restroom, regardless of her physical appearance.)

But what happened first is that the DOJ (led by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was born in Greensboro, North Carolina) gave North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, a.k.a. the one who started this whole mess, until Monday morning to negate the horrid new law. And guess what McCrory didn’t do?

Instead, McCrory decided to sue the DOJ, claiming that there needs to be legislation regulating “transgender bathroom use” (??) at the national level.

So guess what the DOJ did? The DOJ sued North Carolina right back.

This wasn’t completely out of the blue. The DOJ had previously threatened legal action if HB2 wasn’t repealed. The DOJ is now suing on the grounds that the bathroom restrictions discriminate against transgender people (no shit).

I’m very interested to see how this will play out. I have no doubt that justice will prevail, and McCrory will end up on the wrong side of the law/history. But how long will it take, and what other complications could come up?

 

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North Carolina Passes LGBT Discrimination Law

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (Instinct Magazine)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Raleigh, N.C. In one of his first acts as governor, McCrory issued an executive order to repeal the nonpartisan judicial nominating commission established by former Gov. Bev Perdue. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Takaaki Iwabu)

North Carolina Mayor Pat McCrory has now ensured that his state has made the news recently for all the wrong reasons: On Mar. 24th, he signed House Bill 2 into law, which overrides any local government’s anti-discrimination bills that benefitted the LGBT community. (The bill was introduced by the North Carolina State Legislature, which I’ve now refer to as the NCSL.) And not only did McCrory sign this into law, he did it in just one day.

Why is this a huge deal? For one, the NCSL has now blocked a measure that the city of Charlotte (the state’s largest city and the South’s banking hub) recently brought forth which banned discrimination against the LGBT community. Where others would see progress, the NCSL saw…inappropriate public restroom use?

“The Atlantic” breaks down what exactly this new law (ick!) entails:

It also prevents any local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances, mandates that students in the state’s schools use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, and prevents cities from enacting minimum wages higher than the state’s.

Seriously, this new law is all kinds of trouble. But what really gets me is the notion of forcing transgender students to use the restrooms of the gender for which they were assigned at birth. The NCSL is perpetuating the myth that transpeople are pedophiles, and will follow children into public restrooms to ensure vulnerability. I don’t have to tell you how insane that is, do I?

McCrory’s also sending a statement that the capricious whims of the state government will rule any actions local governments make to better their own communities.

This measure will go into effect on Apr. 1st.

Real talk here: I’m from North Carolina. I haven’t lived there in years, but my parents and much of my extended family still resides there. I love going back to visit, but wouldn’t want to live back there again for various reasons. And this new law has given me yet another reason not to go back.

If North Carolina really wants to show that the state, and its residents, are progressive and accepting of all, the NCSL and Pat McCrory really need to turn this ship around, and fast. (I mean, damn, Charlotte’s newspaper “The Charlotte Observer” just published an op-ed putting McCrory in the ranks of other Southern governors that proved to be on the wrong side of history.)

I’m aware of how Southerners are portrayed and thought of outside the bounds of the South (and have even been the victim of these stereotypes sometimes), and right now, North Carolina is looking like a right bumpkin. And not a cute one. Instead of the little cousin who’s endearingly behind the times due to her own innocent ignorance, the Old North State has progressed (ha!) to being the willfully racist hick uncle everyone just grits their teeth and bears at the best of times.

I used to be proud of where I’m from. But this latest idiocy is making it real hard to be.