ACLU, Lambda Legal challenge HB 142, call it “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”

The law that replaced HB 2 is just as discriminatory and perhaps even more harmful, according to a new suit brought Friday by Lambda Legal, The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of North Carolina.

HB 142, passed in May after enormous backlash to HB 2, bars municipalities from setting rules who can use bathrooms in schools and other public, government buildings – including whether transgender people can use the restroom that matches their gender identity.

“Make no mistake – HB 142 still seeks to discriminate against LGB and particularly transgender people,” said Chris Brook, legal director with the ACLU of North Carolina.

Brook called HB 142 “a wolf in sheep’s clothing crafted to keep discrimination intact – but sporting a new look.”

The lawsuit argues HB 142 violates constitutional due process and equal protection rights, as well as federal anti-discrimination laws as they pertain to schools and workplaces.

The amended suit names democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who signed HB 142 into law, rather than Pat McCrory, his Republican predecessor and the signer of HB 2.

Asked whether it is uncomfortable to be opposing Cooper, who championed the fight against HB 2, Brook said there are larger issues at stake.

“This has never been about politics for any of us,” Brook said. “It’s never been about basketball, it’s never been about Deutsche Bank.”

“Everyone was disappointed that the governor signed off on this piece of legislation,” Brook said. “It’s not something that merits the support of anyone.”

The amended suit also names two new plaintiffs – Madeline “Maddy” Goss, 41, of Raleigh and Quinton Harper, 32, of Carrboro.

Harper is a cisgender, bisexual man who works as a community organizer, is active in the fight against HIV and as an advocate for those living it.

Goss is a transgender woman who works as a Tae Kwon Do and is an active LGBT advocate.

On hand for a press conference on the amended suit Friday, Goss said she has been lucky to be able to have all of her legal paperwork and identification changed to read “female” – something not all transgender people can do or even seek to do. Even so, she said, she feels targeted by HB 142 and afraid to choose the restroom that conforms with her gender identity.

“This law invites people to single us out for discrimination, harassment or worse, violence,” Goss said.

Simone Bell, Southern regional director for Lambra Legal, called HB 142 “”a sham and a farce piece of legislation” that “kicks the can of equality down the road.”

Defendants in the lawsuit have asked until Sept. 15 to respond.

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