North Carolina files suit against DOJ over LGBT ‘bathroom’ bill

"This is about dignity," says Attorney General Loretta Lynch; "it's about federal overreach," says Gov. Pat McCrory; "it's about jobs," say businesses. Civil rights, public safety, jobs: What's HB2 really about?

LGBT rainbow flag.
LGBT rainbow flag. (Via

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2016 — North Carolina filed a lawsuit Monday against the federal government. In the suit, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) accused the federal government of “baseless and blatant overreach.”

After the Justice Department filed its own suit on Monday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a press conference, “This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them.” 

The Justice Department demanded that North Carolina stop implementing a bill blocking LGBT legal protections, particularly bathroom access for transgender individuals. Because of the threat of federal sanctions, McCrory and the legislature are facing mounting pressure to repeal the law, which federal officials said on Wednesday violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people on the basis of sex.

The State of Mississippi joins the Discrimination Parade

The North Carolina law has raised criticism among big businesses as well as in Hollywood, as well as calls to boycott. North Carolina’s High Point Market, the world’s largest furniture industry trade show, faced backlash over the law. Several major companies, including Williams-Sonoma, decided to boycott the event.

According to Duke University’s Lukas Brun, the High Point Market generates over $5 billion a year, making it North Carolina’s biggest money-maker. The business backlash to HB2 goes beyond High Point. Almost 200 executives have called for a repeal. PayPal scrapped plans for a new operations center and 400 new jobs, and canceled conventions have cost the state some $8 million and counting.

Dozens of entertainment figures have joined in the boycott, including Cirque du Soleil, Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and Bruce Springsteen.

State lawmakers passed HB2 to nullify a Charlotte ordinance permitting people to use public bathrooms based on their gender identity. The local ordinance would have allowed males to enter women’s restrooms, girls’ locker rooms, women’s shower or girls’ shower facilities. That happened in Washington state, which has a similar ordinance.

McCrory said on “Fox News Sunday” that he was not aware of any North Carolina cases of transgender people using their gender identity to access a restroom and molest someone. In order to highlight the threat of sexual assault, supporters of the law cite reports elsewhere of men entering women’s bathrooms due to policies allowing transgender people to enter the restrooms aligned with their gender identity.

Should the Justice Department come out victorious in the lawsuit, it will have rewritten long-established federal civil rights law in a way not consistent with congressional action. If North Carolina wins, North Carolina’s economy will continue to suffer as national companies, entertainers, and possibly the NCAA cancel events in the state.

Prior legislation allows transgender persons to change the sex indicated on their birth certificates once they undergo gender reassignment surgery. Only 33 percent of transgendered people undergo any sort of surgery to conform more closely to their identified gender, most of them stopping short of full reassignment.

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