HB2, News

In case you missed it: Federal government files motion to withdraw from HB2 litigation

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion Friday to withdraw from litigation over House Bill 2, North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBTQ law that was repealed and replaced by legislation that accomplishes similar goals.

The motion was filed “in light of the passage of North Carolina Session Law 2017-4, House Bill 142,” according to the motion.

HB142 is the law legislators passed to repeal HB2, but the law also prohibits local governments and other public entities (like the university system) from enacting transgender equity ordinance and rules without the legislature’s approval. It also makes clear that no local governmental body in the state can “enact or amend any ordinance regulating private employment practices or regulating private accommodations” until 2020.

The ACLU, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal been working on Carcaño v. McCrory (now known as Carcaño v. Cooper), a federal challenge to HB2, for more than a year. The organizations will continue the fight in court despite the passage of HB142.

Barack Obama’s administration also fought HB2 in court, alleging the legislation violated multiple federal laws. President Donald Trump’s administration is a different story.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions openly opposes transgender equality and has tried to reverse Obama administration’s protections for LGBTQ individuals.

LGBTQ advocates are not pleased with the the DOJ’s decision.

“Here is yet another instance of the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrawing the federal government’s support from transgender individuals, and they are using the fake repeal of HB2 as cover,” said Jon W. Davidson, Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair, Lambda Legal. “Sadly, this was not unexpected, now that anti-transgender forces are in charge of the Departments of Justice and Education. Once again, the Trump administration continues to abandon transgender Americans.”

James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project, said that while the DOJ may want to use the “fake repeal” of HB2 as a cover, his organization would continue to fight.

“We’ll continue this fight as long as it takes to truly strike down this disastrous law for good,” he said in a news release.

The North Carolina GOP praised the DOJ’s litigation decision.

“The Trump administration has take a very reasonable and common sense action that is welcomed,” said former governor Pat McCrory in a press release.

NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said Americans were “once again” seeing the Trump administration reign in the “hyper-partisan Obama Justice Deparment,” a trend he hopes continues.

HB2, News

Transgender athlete who represents USA explains why NCAA returning to NC should not be celebrated

Chris Mosier (Source: Facebook)

After North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 2, Chris Mosier was faced with a decision about whether or not to compete in one of the most meaningful races of his life because of location.

The transgender athlete didn’t feel welcome in the Tarheel state and he was concerned for his safety both in competing and in navigating public spaces outside of his big race.

HB2 may be gone, but now HB142 stands firmly in its place, assuring the LGBTQ community will remain without lawful protections in the state of North Carolina.

After demanding the HB2 repeal and threatening to leave North Carolina for years to come, the NCAA announced shortly after HB142’s passage that championships would return to the state. The organization noted that lawmakers met its bare minimum requirements to be considered a venue.

LGBTQ advocates, including Mosier, have criticized the sports organization’s decision to “reward” North Carolina for the charade of repealing the sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation. They’ve also said it sends a message to other states considering similar “bathroom bills” that there won’t be repercussions.

“As a transgender athlete, it feels like HB142 puts me at risk for discrimination, harassment and exclusion,” Mosier said.

He became the first transgender athlete to represent America after earning a spot on the Team USA sprint duathlon men’s team for the 2016 World Championship. He is also a coach and the vice president of the You Can Play Project, which represents LGBTQ athletes.

Because of HB142, Mosier has once again been faced with the decision about whether or not to compete in North Carolina, but he made clear on a conference call last week that he’s not sitting this race out. He will return to Cary on April 28 to compete in the Cary Du Classic race.

The ACLU organized the conference call. The organization is fighting the NCAA’s decision to return to North Carolina and fighting for LGBTQ communities to have lawful protections both in the state and across the country.

“Personally, it’s important for me to show up and to compete, because I think that sends a message that we will not be stopped, and while it will be uncomfortable and it will not be my favorite race, I think it is important that I not let HB142 stand in the way of me achieving my athletic goals,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think that student athletes need to be put in that position.”

When Mosier attended the race last year, he gassed up at the border, before entering North Carolina, went straight to his hotel, then went from the hotel to the race, from the race to the hotel and then went home. He didn’t spend any money in the state and was uncomfortable in that setting.

“Most of my competitors were not focusing on these things in the critical days and moments leading up to our race,” he added.

He said when he first transitioned categories in sports in 2010, he excelled after getting acceptance from his teammates and competitors.

“When I was able to stop worrying about what people might say to me at the starting line about my gender, or if I would be able to use a particular locker room [facility], I found that I could put more of my focus and my attention in my training, in my racing, and then that kind of effort showed,” he said. “I began winning my age group and eventually winning races overall.”

He said when he was in North Carolina last year, he didn’t even wear his regular uniform that said “Mosier U.S.A.” because he didn’t want to be a target after speaking out against HB2.

“Imagine being at the starting line at one of, if not the most, important sporting events of your career and being worried about being attacked or being harassed,” he said.

Competing without fear, having access to locker rooms and public spaces are critical components of achievement for an athlete, and North Carolina does not offer that with HB142 in place, according to Mosier.

“We know that these laws single out transgender people like me by sending a message that we are not worthy of legal protection and that we shouldn’t be included in public life,” he said. “HB142 creates an unsafe environment for people who are, or who are perceived to be, transgender, and it has a particular focus on harming trans people. … What’s happening here is that they are authorizing discrimination, and it situates me as a transgender person as a threat to the safety and privacy of others, which I am not, and transgender people are not.”

Mosier wants to believe the NCAA values inclusion. In fact, he has presented twice at NCAA inclusion conferences.

“I know there are good people doing great work at NCAA about inclusion, and that was not part of this conversation and that was not reflected in the outcome of them returning back to North Carolina,” he said.

Mosier said the LGBTQ community’s protection should not be an afterthought, adding that the values instilled in sports participants do not line up with North Carolina’s intolerance and discrimination.

“I think that sport is really a great equalizer, and it’s also a great vehicle for social change,” he said. “I know that those athletes who are accepting me, welcoming me, see me as a great athlete, learn that I’m transgender, learn more about transgender identity [and] they become better, more inclusive people outside of the games, outside of the races, and so there’s a great benefit to our interactions.”

agriculture, Commentary, Courts & the Law, HB2, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. School officials preparing to fire thousands of specialty teachers in order to meet K-3 classroom mandate

Welborn, a Republican member of the Guilford County Board of Education, says her district—the third largest in the state—will need to find an additional $16.6 million and 242 new teaching positions to meet the state’s legislative mandate to cut class sizes for kindergarten through third grade beginning next school year.

“We would have to make such drastic cuts, we literally don’t know where we would come up with the money,” says Welborn. “You just don’t do that unless you have absolutely no choice but to do it.”

All across North Carolina, districts like Guilford County say a statutory loss of flexibility over class size may soon yield massive job losses statewide among arts, music and physical education teachers, as well as teacher assistants. [Read more…]

2. Republican lawmaker presents inaccurate numbers at committee meeting to favor shrinking Court of Appeals

Republican lawmakers want to reduce the Court of Appeals and nothing’s going to stand in their way — not even their own inaccuracies.

House Bill 239 was debated at a Senate judiciary committee meeting Wednesday. Rep. Sarah Stevens, one of the bill sponsors, told committee members that in addition to reducing the court from 15 to 12 judges, it would also decrease the workload and add to the state Supreme Court’s workload.

She said she did not ask Chief Justice Mark Martin for an official stance on the bill, but she said he told her the state’s highest court could take on the bigger workload — almost 1,000 cases per year, according to Stevens.

Democrats were skeptical of her numbers, and Court of Appeals Judge Donna Stroud presented an entirely different set of numbers to Senators at the meeting during the public comments.

An NC Policy Watch public records request also found that Stevens’ numbers were wrong. [Read more…]


3. After partial HB2 repeal NC remains woefully behind on anti-discrimination protections

Now that HB2 has been partially repealed, enough for the NCAA and ACC anyway, a lot of folks in Raleigh are hoping the issue of discrimination in North Carolina goes away for a while, at least for the four years that local governments must now wait before protecting LGBTQ people from being fired or denied services because of their sexual orientation.

Most legislative leaders don’t want to talk about it and when they do they continue to mislead the public about their justification for allowing discrimination to remain in place until at least 2020.

House Speaker Tim Moore this week repeated a talking point he has used often in the last few months, that North Carolina’s anti-discrimination standard that does not include protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity is the same as the law in 30 other states. [Read more…]

4. Trump hypocrisy threatens again with massive proposed cuts to legal aid
The most litigious president in U.S. history says “no” to lawyers for poor people

No one ever accused Donald Trump of being consistent. If ever there was a politician for whom a gravitation toward blatant self-contradiction and 180 degree flip flops was embedded in the very fiber of his being, it would have to be the 45th president. Name an important issue of public policy and it seems a virtual lock that Trump will have staked out a position on all sides of it (and then probably contradicted each of them at one time or another with his own personal behavior).

As a “Fact Checker” article in the Washington Post recently observed: [Read more…]

5. Vote on hog “nuisance” lawsuits happened so fast, some lawmakers’ heads were spinning

In his next career, House Speaker Tim Moore should become a magician. On Thursday afternoon, a procedural sleight of hand wound up fast-tracking a controversial — and possibly unconstitutional — agriculture bill through its second reading.

House Bill 467 would limit the amount of damages plaintiffs could receive in litigation against hog farms. Under the measure, citizens could not sue over “quality of life” issues, such as odor. Payouts would be limited to the decrease in a property’s fair market or fair rental value. The bill would not only clamp down on future lawsuits but also the 26 that are pending against Murphy-Brown, which owns Smithfield Foods. It is being supported by several industry groups, including the NC Pork Council and the NC Farm Bureau.

During the regular House session, the first five bills slated for their second or third reading were being voted on in order. Suddenly, Moore broke with protocol and skipped over the next 11 bills, quickly calling for a vote on HB 467. As a result, several lawmakers were confused about the bill they were voting on. [Read more…]

***Upcoming event: Tuesday morning, April 18: NC Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation breakfast ****

Immigration policy in the era of Trump: Where do things stand in North Carolina? What is the reality “on the ground”? How can caring and thinking people speak out and push back?

The presidency of Barack Obama was no picnic for American immigrants. Despite the incessant and inaccurate attacks of nativist voices (including the current inhabitant of the White House), the Obama administration actually brought about more deportations of unauthorized immigrants than occurred under any previous president – often with only the barest minimum of due process and devastating human carnage resulting.

Tragically, however, things have gone from badly flawed to dreadful under the administration of Donald Trump.

Register here

.

HB2, News

ACLU asks NC educational institutions how they will protect LGBT community if NCAA plays venue

If the NCAA is going to host an event at a North Carolina educational institution, the ACLU wants that venue to prove how officials intend to guarantee a nondiscriminatory environment for LGBT people.

The NCAA announced this week that they would consider venues in North Carolina for NCAA championship host sites in response to the passage of HB 142, even though the HB 2 replacement leaves LGBT people, particularly transgender people, subject to discrimination. It also said that potential host sites in North Carolina would be “required to submit additional documentation demonstrating how student-athletes and fans will be protected from discrimination.”

The national and state organization has filed public records requests at universities in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Cary and Greenville, as well as the following public universities: Appalachian State University; East Carolina University; North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; North Carolina Central University; North Carolina State University; University of North Carolina-Asheville; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; University of North Carolina-Charlotte; University of North Carolina-Greensboro; University of North Carolina-Wilmington; Western Carolina University.

The ACLU is requesting all information pertaining to potential applications for consideration to host NCAA championship events.
“We’re filing these public records requests because the LGBT community deserves clarity on how these sites can guarantee a nondiscriminatory environment in light of the passage of HB 142,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. “Transparency is essential given that the backroom deals around HB 142 have only resulted in a status quo that continues to subject trans student-athletes, coaches, and fans to discrimination.”

Under HB 142 itself, schools, state or local government buildings throughout the State of North Carolina cannot have policies giving transgender people access to the appropriate restrooms. Without such protections, transgender people cannot go to school, work, or attend sporting events and other public activities.

ACLU of North Carolina Policy Director Sarah Gillooly said, “The NCAA must stand by its word and demand documentation of basic nondiscrimination policies and protections before further committing to any North Carolina sites.”

The public records request can be found here.

Gillooly was joined on a teleconference call today with Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, and Chris Mosier, a transgender Team USA athlete, LGBTQ rights activist and policy consultant for inclusive practices.

They called for a clean repeal of HB 142, and said the measure was not a clean repeal of HB 2.

“HB 142 perpetuates the dangerous lie that transgender people are a threat to safety and privacy,” Gillooly said.

She added that the NCAA made a bad decision in declaring that HB 142 meets the minimal requirements for returning events here.

“North Carolina cities and public universities simply cannot guarantee that LGBT people will be legally protected from discrimination,” she said.

Strangio agreed and said the ACLU’s goal in making the public records request is to hold the NCAA and North Carolina responsible to its students, fans and constituents.

Commentary, HB2, News

Hopeful equality news: Appeals court rules federal law bars LGBT discrimination

In the unhappy aftermath of HB2, there was another important crack in the wall of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the United States late yesterday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (which covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) ruled that federal civil rights law bars employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. This is from a story on the the website of the advocacy group Lambda Legal, which brought the suit:

In a groundbreaking, 8-3 decision, the full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates federal civil rights law.

The court found that such discrimination is a form of sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.

The decision — which came in Lambda Legal’s case on behalf of Kimberly Hively, an instructor at Ivy Tech Community College who was fired for being a lesbian — makes the Seventh Circuit the highest federal court to reach this conclusion and could change the national landscape of employment law for LGBT people.

In August of 2014, Kimberly Hively sued Ivy Tech Community College, arguing that the school violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it denied her full-time employment and promotions after she had been seen kissing her then-girlfriend in the parking lot of the school. The trial court dismissed Hively’s lawsuit and held that Title VII — which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion — does not protect employees from antigay discrimination.

In April 2015, Lambda Legal appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking reversal and reinstatement of Hively’s complaint. A three-judge panel ruled against Hively in July 2016, but Lambda Legal requested a rehearing of the case by the full panel of the Seventh Circuit – all eleven judges. On October 11, 2016 that request was granted, and in November, Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Program Director for Lambda Legal, appeared once again, to ask that the court overturn its prior decisions limiting the reach of Title VII.