Loretta Lynch - Photo by the World Economic Forum (Creative Commons)
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made clear today that North Carolina’s discriminatory “bathroom bill” is against federal law. At a press conference this afternoon, she announced that the Justice Department is suing North Carolina over its new law, which repeals anti-discrimination measures and local living wage laws around the state, in addition to making it illegal for transgender people to use a bathroom that doesn’t conform to the sex listed on their birth certificate.
“You have been told that this law protects vulnerable populations from harm. But that’s just not the case. What this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has already suffered far more than its fair share,” said Attorney General Lynch. “This law provides no benefit to society. All it does is harm innocent Americans.”
Republican legislators across the country have proposed 50 bathroom bills so far this year, but North Carolina's is the only one to become law. Since the Republican-held state legislature passed the bathroom bill, HB2, during a speedy 24-hour special session in March, thousands of people around North Carolina have turned out to protest the measure. The ACLU is already fighting the bill in court, noting that it violates North Carolinians’ right to privacy as well as federal law that bans sex-based discrimination. Now, it’s clear that the Justice Department agrees.
“State-sanctioned discrimination never looks good and never works,” said Lynch.
North Carolina’s own attorney general, a Democrat running for governor in the fall, has refused to defend the law. But that didn’t stop North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from continuing to back the discriminatory bill. He filed suit against the Justice Department, alleging that the feds are pushing a “radical reinterpretation” of federal civil rights law.
If North Carolina refuses to repeal its hateful law, the federal government could cut off funding to the state, including $1.4 billion in education funding. Let’s hope Governor McCrory doesn’t push it that far.
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