The Federal Government Is Telling North Carolina to Back Off in Support of LGBTQ Rights (Video)
The Tar Heel State has become a hotbed in the ongoing battle for LGBTQ rights, with particular emphasis on the “T.” North Carolina legislators recently passed House Bill 2, which has colloquially been called the “Bathroom Bill,” an ordinance which effectively forces transgendered men and women to use the public restroom which matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Supporters claim the bill protects women and girls from predators who may dress as female in an effort to commit sexual assault, whereas proponents argue such a concern is not supported by any data, making it instead an argument based entirely upon bigotry. The opposition has made national news for weeks, thanks in part to high-visibility celebrities like Bruce Springsteen canceling appearances in the state in protest, while supporters include hundreds of thousands who have boycotted Target due to the company’s decision to allow transgendered folks to use whichever bathroom suits the sex with which they identify. Much like gay marriage before and interracial marriage before that (and countless other movements for civil equality), this particular battle of the wills just got more contentious, thanks to a decision by the federal government to weigh in on the continued controversy.
According to the New York Times, the United States Justice Department has told North Carolina’s leaders that House Bill 2 is a direct violation of the civil rights protected by law. This is a big turning point which may pit states’ rights versus the will of the feds in potentially explosive ways – much like the recent fight over the hanging of the confederate flag outside of the capitol building in neighboring South Carolina. As Eric Lichtblau and Richard Fausset write, “In a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory, Vanita Gupta, the top civil rights lawyer for the Justice Department, said that ‘both you and the State of North Carolina’ were in violation of civil rights law, and gave him until Monday to decide ‘whether you will remedy these violations.'” The goal is to convince Governor McCrory and his fellow statesmen and women to willingly comply, but as most of u know, the federal government certainly has means of forcing an opponent’s hand, leaving North Carolina with very few options. Steps the feds could take include “denying federal funds or asking a court to do so,” which could potentially mean the state would have to support its operations independently of the federal reserve and federal taxpayer money. Such an economic umbrage would likely translate into an impossible task, but that doesn’t mean North Carolina has an easy decision to make.
Governor McCrory’s stance on the issue was made clear in a statement put forth by his office in which he said “The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy. We will be reviewing to determine the next steps,” perhaps suggesting that he and other supporters of HB2 are ready to put up a fight. Many pundits – including CBS justice reporter Paula Reid – feel the fight may end up in the highest court of the land, where the Supreme Court justices will undoubtedly make history by ruling on what may prove to be one of the most important moments in the fight for transgender rights. However, the arrival of such a juncture is entirely dependent on North Carolina’s Monday deadline, and whatever the state’s decision is – whether to adhere to the federal government’s warning or to pursue legal action to maintain its stance – it goes without saying that public opinion will continue to be heated.
To that effect, the bipartisan organization Freedom for All Americans this week put out an ad campaign in an attempt to humanize the transgender community, presumably to raise awareness of the discrimination being felt by the men and women being ostracized for choosing to identify with whichever gender they feel suits them best. In it, a North Carolinian transgender man and his coworkers detail the struggle that laws like HB2 have placed in front of his ability to live and work freely. It’s a powerful piece of film, as it illustrates just how difficult something as simple as using the restroom can become for those whose very identities are challenged by cultural, religious, and social norms. What happens when our individual sense of identity becomes outlawed?