At one point during the debate yesterday over HB 2, the bill that essentially rids the state of all non-discrimination ordinances, one conservative lawmaker defended his colleagues’ rush to convene and render the new law as necessary to head off lawsuits — as if they weren’t coming anyway.
It may have taken only less than half a day for state conservative lawmakers to ram through the bill and for the governor to sign it, but it took only minutes for advocacy organizations to then announce that litigation would quickly follow.
“Today was a devastating day for LGBT North Carolinians and particularly our transgender community members who have been subjected to months of distorted rhetoric culminating in today’s display of bias and ignorance by North Carolina lawmakers,” ACLU of North Carolina Legal Director Chris Brook said in a press release sent out a little after 10:30 last night.
“The ACLU, Lambda Legal, and Equality NC are reviewing all options, including litigation.”
“This cruel and insulting bill is about more than bathroom access, it’s about fairness in employment, education, and local governance,” Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality NC added.
“It aims to override local school board policies, local public accommodations laws, and more. This law also violates many other federal statutes and the United States Constitution by attempting to mandate discrimination in government buildings.”
A legal challenge to a similar law in Virginia has already progressed through federal courts there, with a decision from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals likely soon.
In that case, a transgender high schooler sued the local school board after it adopted a new policy requiring all students to use either bathrooms aligning with their birth sex or newly-created unisex bathrooms. The student has contended that the policy violated Title IX prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sex and 14th Amendment equal protection provisions.
The school board argued that because any student can use the unisex bathrooms it is treating all students equally.
In reality, though, students who identify with their birth sex have two choices: use the bathrooms aligning with that birth sex or use the unisex bathrooms.
Transgender students however have only one choice – the unisex bathrooms.
“We expect the ACLU’s and Lambda Legal’s Legal Help Desks will light up with calls from those who suffer discrimination imposed by this law, and we stand ready to help,” Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney with Lambda Legal, said in the release.
”This law is in direct conflict with protections provided to students under Title IX and could cause the state to lose billions in federal funds. Instead of solving any real problems, the law would create new ones and could lead to intolerable and unfair conditions for transgender students who are entitled, by federal law, to a safe and equitable education.”
Of course, HB 2 wasn’t only about bathrooms and the transgender community.
The bill also bans all local nondiscrimination ordinances, shuts down recourse to state courts for those with discrimination claims and prohibits local governments from mandating wages higher than those required by the state.
Plenty of fodder for more lawsuits.