After signing an anti-LGBT rights bill, House Bill 2, that drew nationwide condemnation, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, on April 12, issued an executive order that he claimed "expanded" the state's employment policy to include sexual orientation and gender identitybut which maintains the bill's provisions that force transgender people to use the wrong restroom while prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees.
ACLU of North Carolina Acting Executive Director Sarah Preston said, "Gov. McCrory's actions today are a poor effort to save face after his sweeping attacks on the LGBT community, and they fall far short of correcting the damage done when he signed the harmful House Bill 2 into law which stigmatizes and mandates discrimination against gay and transgender people. With this executive order, LGBT individuals still lack legal protections from discrimination, and transgender people are still explicitly targeted by being forced to use the wrong restroom.
"An impressive and growing number of businesses, faith leaders and public figures have come out to condemn House Bill 2 as an unnecessary and dangerous measure that unfairly targets gay and transgender people. Regardless of political affiliation, more and more political leaders also understand that discrimination is bad for business and politically toxic. The public believes in equality and fairness and House Bill 2 and measures like it are out of step with the values of most Americans.
"Efforts to divide the LGBT community by extending limited protections but leaving in place the rules mandating discrimination against the transgender community will only strengthen our resolve to fight back against this discriminatory and misguided legislative action. We call on Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina legislature to repeal House Bill 2 and replace it with full non-discrimination protections for all LGBT people."
Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kyle Palazzolo, in a separate statement, said, "The devastating blow of HB 2 will not be fixed by the band-aid of an executive order. While this is an improvement for the state employees it impacts, HB 2's reach goes far beyond what the executive order addresses and that's why we are challenging this extreme and discriminatory measurein order to ensure that everyone who lives in and visits North Carolina is protected under the law.
"HB 2 is an attack on fairness in employment, education, and local governance that encourages discrimination against thousands of LGBT people who call North Carolina home, and it particularly targets transgender people."
National Center of Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling weighed in, saying, "It's obvious that Gov. McCrory is trying to save his reputation with this desperate move. His executive order says that transgender state employees are protected from discrimination, but they still can't use the restroom at work. It doesn't make sense. In fact, the order does nothing to change the government-mandated discrimination against all trans people in public buildings across the state. And it doesn't change the fact that most LGBT people in the state still have zero protections against discrimination. If Gov. McCrory thinks anyone is going to fall for this, he has completely underestimated North Caroliniansand the rest of the nation."
Lambda Legal, the ACLU and the ACLU of North Carolina recently filed a lawsuit challenging House Bill 2. The lawsuit argues that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.
The Obama administration is presently considering whether North Carolina's House Bill 2 makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways, and housing. North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary schools, all of which remains at jeopardy given the state's policy of systemically violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students.