Governor Pat McCrory (Pic: Hal Goodtree)
In an extraordinary move, North Carolina’s governor has sued the federal government after it warned him that his state’s new anti-LGBT law is illegal.
Last week, the US Department of Justice told Governor Pat McCrory that the law, which forces transgender people to use public bathrooms according to the sex on their birth certificate, violates the Civil Rights Act and the Education Amendments Act.
The department gave him until today to confirm that “the State will not comply with or implement” the law or face possible action by the government, including the suspension of federal funding.
A defiant McCrory announced today that he has instead chosen to defend the law, asking a federal US district court to rule that the legislation is in fact lawful.
McCrory said in a statement that, “This is now a national issue that applies to every state and it needs to be resolved at the federal level.”
He claimed that the Obama administration is “telling every government agency and every company that employs more than 15 people that men should be allowed to use a women’s locker room, restroom or shower facility.”
“Trans bathroom panic” has become an effective strategy employed by anti-LGBT campaigners in the US who claim that transgender people using the public bathroom of their choice would place women and children in danger from sexual predators.
The groups Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC slammed the governor for defending “his deeply discriminatory” law.
“North Carolina’s HB2 law is blatantly unconstitutional and violates federal civil rights law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“The idea [that] Governor McCrory is going to waste even more time and millions more taxpayer dollars defending it is reckless and wrong,” added Griffin. “HB2 is a vile law attacking transgender North Carolinians and leaves many more unprotected from discrimination. Rather than defending it, Governor McCrory should be working with state lawmakers to fix the mess he’s created.”
According to the groups, North Carolina has already lost more than a half billion dollars – and counting – in economic activity because of the law. Companies have cancelled or reconsidered plans to come to the state, and cancelled conventions and concerts.
That doesn’t include potential economic development that won’t happen in North Carolina because of HB2’s discriminatory provisions, they said, or the potential catastrophic loss of federal funding for schools, roads, bridges, and other essential services.
In addition to its restrictions on bathroom use, North Carolina’s law also removes municipal LGBT non-discrimination protections in the state and prevents similar protections from being passed by cities in the future.