By A. W. Dashing
Earlier this week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) intention to sue the state of North Carolina for its “bathroom bill,” an act Ms. Lynch called “state-sponsored discrimination” against the people of the Tar Heel State and reminiscent of Jim Crow laws from more than a century ago.
North Carolina state government has come under fire for enacting the law its Legislature passed during a special session back in March. House Bill 2 (HB2) overruled and banned legislation passed by the Charlotte City Council permitting bathroom accommodations to transgender persons, and required transgendered persons to use bathrooms corresponding with their birth gender. The bill was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory and immediately met with resistance from residents, human rights organizations, corporations, entertainers, NASCAR and the NBA.
Many may wonder what all the fuss is about, and rightly so. There have been arguments from both sides about the fear (real or perceived) of predatory actions against children and straight men abusing the law to act as peeping toms. It’s important to note that at no time before HB2 were transgendered persons required to use bathrooms associated with their birth gender anywhere in the United States. However, the core matter is simply if the new requirement places an unfair (and unnecessary) burden on a class of people. As with most controversial measures, there is a deep divide on the utility of the law.
“This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us.” -Attorney General Loretta Lynch, May 9
Just over a year removed from the announcement by former Olympian Bruce Jenner that he would live as a woman named Caitlyn, transgender rights have been re-introduced to the public consciousness with a greater spotlight. Jenner recently told the New York Times she finds the law to be discriminatory and would break it if she ever needed to use a bathroom in North Carolina. The state’s university system has also decided to break the law, choosing to comply with federal law in a move most believe protects its transgender students and hundreds of millions of dollars in anticipated federal funding from the Department of Education.
As the nation’s top prosecutor, Ms. Lynch has a special responsibility to protect all Americans against actions and policies that possibly discriminate. Lynch said the state’s law violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1972 Title IX Education Amendments, both of which prohibit gender discrimination. The legal battle has just begun, with both the state and federal governments filing lawsuits against each other. The DOJ lawsuit is a countersuit to North Carolina’s filing against the federal government, asserting that Congress should make the rules on who goes where, not the DOJ.
What are your thoughts on HB2 and its effects? Do you have issues with transgendered persons using bathrooms outside of their birth gender? Are there issues the law presents that have not been discussed? Should HB2 stand as law or be struck down? Leave them in the comments section.
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