Today, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law, HB 2. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina against North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, Attorney General Roy Cooper, and the University of North Carolina, is on behalf of two transgender North Carolinians, Joaquín Carcaño, a UNC-Chapel Hill employee, and Payton McGarry, a UNC-Greensboro student, and Angela Gilmore, a lesbian and North Carolina Central University law professor.
“HB 2 is hurtful and demeaning. I just want to go to work and live my life. This law puts me in the terrible position of either going into the women’s room where I clearly don’t belong or breaking the law,” said plaintiff Joaquín Carcaño. “But this is about more than bathrooms, this is about my job, my community, and my ability to get safely through my day and be productive like everyone else in North Carolina.”
“We’re challenging this extreme and discriminatory measure in order to ensure that everyone who lives in and visits North Carolina is protected under the law,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “This cruel, insulting, and unconstitutional law 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 particularly targets transgender men and women. HB 2 aims to override local school board policies, local public accommodations laws, and more.”
“No legislature should be using its power to require cities, counties, or school districts to discriminate against anyone. This law is a targeted and unprecedented attack on the LGBT community, particularly against transgender people, both young people and adults,” said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney with Lambda Legal. “Clearly HB 2 is unconstitutional as it not only violates the guarantees of equal protection and due process in the U.S. Constitution but it also violates Title IX by requiring discrimination in education. North Carolina legislators cannot strip equality out of the Constitution and the law. ”
“The rhetoric on display last week by some members of our legislature showed just how transparent their anti-LGBT motives were. Not only did they keep the bill language secret until the morning it was introduced but it only took 12 hours to pass and sign into law a bill with terrible consequences for thousands of North Carolinians. North Carolina may also now face a loss of federal education funding, revenue from businesses that relocate or choose not to set-up shop here, and potential income-generating sporting and entertainment events,” said Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality NC, the statewide LGBT advocacy group. “Now is the time to be on the right side of history, because together we will show the politicians that North Carolina refuses to be a leader in bigotry.”
The plaintiffs in this case are: Joaquín Carcaño, 27, a UNC-Chapel Hill employee from Carrboro; Payton McGarry, 20, a UNC-Greensboro student who was born and raised in Wilson; and Angela Gilmore, 52, a North Carolina Central University law professor. Also named plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Equality North Carolina and the ACLU of North Carolina.
Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina are filing the lawsuit together as co-counsel in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. In the complaint being filed today, the plaintiffs allege 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 because it discriminates on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and is an invasion of privacy for transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.