The American federal government is locked in a bitter dispute with North Carolina’s governor over the state’s discriminatory anti-LGBT law.
On Monday, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the US Department of Justice had filed a lawsuit against Governor Pat McCrory, the state’s Department of Public Safety, and the University of North Carolina and Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.
The department asked the court to bar the state from enforcing the controversial HB2 law, known as the “bathroom law”, which prohibits transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice in public buildings.
In a powerful speech, Lynch compared the discriminatory law to other legislative attempts to hold back “historic moments of progress” in the civil rights and LGBT rights movement.
“It was not so very long ago that states, including North Carolina, had other signs above restrooms, water fountains, and on public accommodations, keeping people out based on a distinction without a difference. We’ve moved beyond those dark days,” Lynch said.
“This is why none of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something they are not, or invents a problem that doesn’t exist as a pretext for discrimination and harassment.”
The move followed McCrory filing his own lawsuit earlier in the day against the department in a desperate bid to have the courts declare the law lawful.
Addressing the transgender community directly, Lynch said: “Please know that history is on your side. This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy—but we’ll get there together.”
North Carolina’s controversial law forces transgender students in public schools and universities as well as transgender people in state buildings to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.
It also removes existing municipal LGBT non-discrimination protections in the state and prevents similar protections from being passed by cities in the future.
The US Department of Justice believes that the law is unconstitutional and violates the Civil Rights Act and the Education Amendments Act.