BIG WIN: Transgender North Carolinians Win Legislative Relief from HB2 in Step Forward

By Megan Clayton • August 26, 2016 • 7:21 pm

North Carolinians who petitioned a federal court to halt enforcement of the anti-transgender portions of House Bill 2 were vindicated today when a federal judge accepted their request, blocking the University of North Carolina from enforcing a policy that restricts transgender people’s access to restrooms. The decision is a significant step forward in the ongoing campaign against anti-LGBT laws, marking a notch of momentum toward the understanding that no one should face legal discrimination for who they are or who they love.

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U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder, appointed by Republican president George W. Bush, ruled that UNC cannot enforce the anti-transgender provisions of the law while challenges to HB2 works its way through the courts. The move is a temporary fix meant to last until the many legal challenges to the anti-transgender law have wound their way through the courts.

Matt McTighe, Freedom for All Americans’ executive director, praised the decision and was optimistic that those fighting the discriminatory law would be victorious in the end:

“This temporary injunction will bring immediate and needed relief to students at UNC, whose lives have been turned upside down because of HB2. HB2 is a disastrous law that is inflicting harm across the state—from transgender North Carolinians who are singled out for discrimination, to hard working business owners and employees who are feeling the brunt of the economic backlash. This injunction is a step in the right direction. We hope that soon this discriminatory law will be relegated to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.”

The injunction today was sought in the case of Carcaño v. McCrory, a lawsuit filed jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal and the legal team from Jenner & Block. It specifically challenges provisions in HB2 that by ignore North Carolinians’ gender identity and target transgender people for exclusion from public places and facilities, effectively forbidding them from using the restroom in public. It involves six LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina as plaintiffs.

This is the latest blow to anti-LGBT laws that emerged during this year’s state legislative season. Last month, a federal judge struck down Mississippi’s discriminatory HB 1523—a bill that sought to allow businesses and individuals to cite their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against same-sex couples, transgender people, and unmarried people.

The judge in that case singled out HB 1523 as nothing more than state-sanctioned discrimination, and noted that the Mississippi law “was the State’s attempt to put LGBT citizens back in their place after Obergefell.”

Today’s ruling came from Judge Thomas Schroeder, who was nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush. Judge Schroeder will also preside over a full trial for two other prominent legal challenges involving the law. The first is from the U.S. Department of Justice, which claims the anti-transgender portions of HB2 constitute gender discrimination under Title IX. The other is a countersuit to the Justice Department’s lawsuit from Governor Pat McCrory and other top state legislative leaders. That trial is set to begin November 14.

As economic backlash — which includes the NBA’s recent decision to relocate the 2017 All-Star game —continues to rock North Carolina in the wake of HB 2’s passage, today’s ruling is the clearest signal yet that lawmakers should turn back, repeal this discriminatory law and save the state from the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses it will sustain as more organizations potentially follow the NBA’s lead.


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