North Carolina editorial boards are criticizing Gov. Pat McCrory (R) after he filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department in defense of the state’s anti-LGBT bathroom bill. McCrory claimed that the federal government had no authority to demand state legislators rework the law so it isn't discriminatory, and state newspapers denounced the governor for “defending the indefensible” and engaging in a “disturbing” legal battle that “won’t end well” for North Carolina.
North Carolina Governor Sues Justice Department After Order To Readjust HB 2
NY Times: Gov. McCrory Sues Justice Department In Defense Of “Bathroom Bill.” On Monday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory initiated a legal battle against the Justice Department after it ordered state legislators to backpedal House Bill 2 (HB 2), which requires transgender people to use the restroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate. Gov. McCrory accused the Justice Department of “baseless and blatant overreach.” From The New York Times:
The nation’s clash over the rights of transgender people escalated sharply on Monday as Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina and the Justice Department sued each other, testing the boundaries of federal civil rights laws in a dispute over public restroom access.
Days after the Justice Department demanded that North Carolina back away from a new state law restricting access to restrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms, Mr. McCrory, in a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court here, accused the department of “a baseless and blatant overreach” stemming from a “radical reinterpretation” of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The state General Assembly’s Republican leaders filed a similar suit against the Justice Department. [The New York Times, 5/9/16]
North Carolina Newspapers Call Out McCrory For Defending Anti-LGBT Law, “Making The Situation Worse”
Charlotte Observer: “Disturbing” That McCrory Is Defending A Law That Denies “Not Only Identity, But Dignity.” The editorial board at The Charlotte Observer denounced McCrory’s lawsuit and criticized the state for defending a law with the same rationale previously used to discriminate against gays and lesbians seeking equality, writing “it’s a rationale that denies not only identity, but dignity.” “It’s no less disturbing now,” the May 9 editorial said, “and no more valid”:
In his 10-page lawsuit Monday against the U.S. Department of Justice, Gov. Pat McCrory offered a hauntingly familiar defense of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law: HB 2 doesn’t discriminate against transgender individuals, because transgender identity isn’t really real.
That’s a rationale, legal and otherwise, that was used against gays and lesbians during their fight for equality. It’s no less disturbing now – and no more valid.
It is, essentially, a denial that a transgender person has claim to a different “gender identity,” which is the same rejection that was made of gays’ and lesbians’ claim to “sexual orientation.” It’s not biology, the reasoning goes. It’s a choice.
The arguments behind that law were made clear Monday: The Civil Rights Act doesn’t recognize transgender people, and our state doesn’t recognize a transgender person’s gender identity. Because if “gender identity” doesn’t exist, then neither does the discrimination in HB 2.
It’s a rationale that denies not only identity, but dignity. It should be rejected by the courts, and by the people of North Carolina. [The Charlotte Observer, 5/9/16]
News & Observer: McCrory “Keeps Making The Situation Worse.” The editorial board at The News & Observer said McCrory “has it exactly backward” in his defense of North Carolina’s bathroom bill. In its May 9 editorial, the paper slammed the governor for lacking civil rights law knowledge and “defending the indefensible” instead of “the best interests of North Carolina”:
In the matter of HB2, Gov. Pat McCrory continues to present his dithering as resolve and it keeps making the situation worse.
First, he signed the bill into law without consulting with the affected parties or the public, then he played the statesman by calling for discussion of it. Now, he’s posing as standing firm even as he reveals his uncertainty about how civil rights law works. That’s something he should have explored before making North Carolina the first state to bar transgender people from using the bathrooms in public agencies and schools that match their gender identity.
It’s remarkable that McCrory, who has been meekly compliant toward the Republican-controlled legislature, is flexing his muscles against the U.S. government. He has it exactly backward. He should have stood tough against the GOP zealots who decided to stamp out local laws that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And he should have been flexible when the Justice Department asked him to adjust HB 2 to avoid a suspension of federal funding.
McCrory is defending the indefensible, a law that allows for discrimination. What he is not defending are the best interests of North Carolina. [The News & Observer, 5/9/16]
News & Record: McCrory’s Stance In North Carolina’s Legal Battle Is “Simplistic And Ultimately Misleading,” “Is Not Going To End Well.” The News & Record editorial board lambasted McCrory for taking a “simplistic and ultimately misleading” stance in his defense of HB 2 against the Justice Department. The May 10 editorial argued the state should have repealed the bill “in whole” because it “isn’t worth defending”:
Now our state is in a legal battle with the U.S. government. It is not going to end well.
As he has stated for weeks, McCrory again acknowledged Monday that gender-identity issues are “complex and emotional.” Yet he still frames his stance in simplistic and ultimately misleading terms. He ignores letters from medical associations and fails to consider the stories of transgender people. He either doesn’t understand, or refuses to concede, that this isn’t about men using women’s facilities. It is about people who live and fully identify as one gender using the facilities that conform to that identity. This is what transgender people did before HB 2 created a dilemma for them and a world of trouble for our entire state.
The great irony is that, even if one believes this has anything to do with bathroom safety, HB 2 still isn’t worth defending because it does nothing to make bathrooms safer. It has no enforcement mechanisms and sets no penalties for using the “wrong” facilities.
It’s clear what should have happened by now. The legislature should have repealed HB 2 in whole, dumping all of its ill-intended edicts, including a provision barring cities from enacting anti-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians. The legislature could address bathroom concerns by setting strict penalties for criminal behavior, including indecent exposure, in public facilities. Instead, the governor and legislative leaders have stirred up imaginary fears of bathroom predators posing as women to carry out assaults on unsuspecting women and girls. This ruse might excite some voters, but whatever political gain McCrory and others realize is going to be buried under the legal and economic costs.
At risk are billions of dollars in federal funding, not to mention more economic damage inflicted by corporations that don’t want to conduct business in a socially regressive state. [News & Record, 5/10/16]