Transgender Bathroom Bill Survives N.C. Legislative Season, But Still Faces Numerous Court Challenges

the North Carolina state legislative building (© iStock)
the North Carolina state legislative building (© iStock)

Despite threats of economic sanctions and a coordinated smear campaign, House Bill 2 remained intact at the close of the North Carolina General Assembly on July 1. The law that requires men and women to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the sex noted on their birth certificates still faces challenges in the courts and, possibly, the state legislature next term.

On the last day of the session, two minor additions to the law reinstated the right of North Carolinians to sue for wrongful termination and extended the statute of limitations from one to three years for filing such grievances. Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of NC Values Coalition, said she did not oppose the additions because they left intact the intent of HB2, much to the chagrin of opponents within the state and without.

“We went into the short session knowing that there would be great pressure to repeal it or make major changes,” Fitzgerald said.

HB2 revoked the city of Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance that gave protected-class status to LGBT citizens and would have required all publicly and privately owned businesses to allow transgender persons to use the restrooms or locker rooms that corresponded to their gender identities. A similar bill had been rejected less than a year earlier by the City Council. HB2 establishes statewide standards for public restroom and locker-room use, leaving private companies to establish their own standards.

On March 23, five days after passage of HB2, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit, charging the bill discriminated against gays, lesbians, and transgender people. In April, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory alleging the law violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s non-discrimination prohibitions. In response to the letter, McCrory sued the DOJ challenging the department’s interpretation of the landmark legislation. The DOJ countersued.

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Bonnie Pritchett