(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) The law that replaced North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” still discriminates against LGBTQ individuals, according to a lawsuit filed on Friday.
North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2 prevented “transgenders” from using restrooms corresponding to their gender identity, in order to promote safety and protect privacy and religious convictions. The bill faced backlash that ultimately hurt the state’s reputation and business, liberal activists and moderate Republicans claimed, so it was re-written in March. Those claims were found to be false as North Carolina experienced record levels of tourism visits and spending in 2016, despite a few boycotts exaggerated by the legacy media.
The new bill, H.B. 142, was a compromise that eliminated the requirement for transgender individuals to use public restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. It does specify that from now on only the North Carolina legislature can make rules for public restrooms, and prohibits local governments from implementing nondiscrimination ordinances until December 2020. The original HB2 was enacted because the City of Charlotte created an ordinance that forced private businesses to allow use of their gender-specific restrooms based upon an individual’s “gender identity” or “fluidity.”
The American Civil Liberties Union said the new bill continues its predecessor’s discriminatory measures, and has hurt LGBTQ individuals.
“Legislators were forced to rewrite the law,” ACLU lawyer Chris Brook said. “But make no mistake … H.B. 142 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing crafted to keep discrimination intact but sporting a new look.”
The new law is too vague and open-ended, according to the lawsuit, making it impossible for transgender individuals to know what restrooms they are legally allowed to use. The ACLU said this ambiguity was intentional, and allows Republican legislators to effectively discriminate against transgenders.
“The vacuum purposefully created by H.B. 142 in effect maintains the ban of (the previous law) and encourages discrimination by both government and private entities and individuals,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit cites a statement from House Speaker Tim Moore, who said the replacement law ensures that “persons of the opposite sex cannot go into designated multi-occupancy restrooms.”
Moore also said those who break the new law could face criminal charges.
“When you have an ambiguous statute and the most powerful people in your state telling you that you could be criminally prosecuted for using the restroom, it’s no surprise that transgender North Carolinians would feel deterred from going about their day-to-day business,” Brook said.
The ACLU said in the lawsuit that H.B. 142 violates transgender individuals’ rights, including equal protection and due process. The new bill has inflicted “pain” on LGBTQ individuals, the lawsuit says, and must be repealed.
Supporters of the bill maintain it is an appropriate compromise that ensures individual liberty while promoting safety and privacy.