North Carolina transgender bathroom law challenged in court
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - Opponents of a new North Carolina law that bars transgender people from choosing bathrooms consistent with their gender identity sued the state on Monday, arguing the measure is unconstitutional and should be block...
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - Opponents of a new North Carolina law that bars transgender people from choosing bathrooms consistent with their gender identity sued the state on Monday, arguing the measure is unconstitutional and should be blocked by a federal court.
State lawmakers passed the law last week during a one-day special session called to repeal a Charlotte city ordinance that would have allowed bathroom choice based on gender identity versus sex at birth.
The Republican-led legislature also voted to prohibit local governments from enacting anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The actions drew swift criticism from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups and companies including American Airlines, Apple and Google.
"By singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law, (the state) violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution," said the lawsuit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal.
The plaintiffs include two transgender men and a lesbian who said North Carolina's law makes them feel less welcome and less safe.
"It is so more than a restroom," said Joaquin Carcano, a 27-year-old university employee who is one of the plaintiffs. "It is about dignity. It’s about respect."
Republican lawmakers have defended the law as a common-sense response to what they described as radical overreach by the mayor and city council in Charlotte, the state's largest city.
Republican Governor Pat McCrory, who is seeking re-election in November, signed the state measure into law on the same day it was introduced and passed by both chambers of the legislature.
The governor's office did not immediately comment on the lawsuit on Monday.
Opponents of the law criticized legislators for allowing little public debate before passing the sweeping measure, which they said has hurt the state's national reputation.
They noted the weeks of debate and review given to a Georgia measure that sought to strengthen legal protections for gay marriage opponents before Republican Governor Nathan Deal signaled on Monday he would veto it.
"By contrast, what happened here in North Carolina was a farce," said Chris Brook, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina.
By Colleen Jenkins