North Carolina sued for violation of civil liberties

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The governor of North Carolina is being sued for violating the civil liberties of citizens based on sex discrimination after House Bill 2 passed in the North Carolina legislature on March 23.

Governor Pat McCrory is one of four defendants in a suit brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, Equality North Carolina and several members of the NC LGBTQ community.

The bill – which requires transgender citizens to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate – was passed in a special session.

After the bill passed, Democrat members of the legislature walked out in protest of the bill’s passing.

President of Gamma Sigma Kappa, Charlene Perez said bills that reflect the language used in House Bill 2 directly discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

“Bathroom Bills, such as the one in North Carolina, affect the LGBT community in a negative manner,” Perez said. “In the U.S. there are already several states with laws protecting members of the LGBT community and their right to use the bathroom of their preferred gender identification. North Carolina’s bill, and bills alike not only infringe on a person’s human right to freely express and transition to their correct gender, but they encourage the notion that members of the LGBT community do not need nor deserve such protections.”

The language used by lawmakers in North Carolina closely echoes the language used by opponents of Proposition 1 – or the HERO ordinance – in Houston.

“The way the ordinance was written by (the) City Council in Charlotte, it would have allowed a man to go into a bathroom, locker or any changing facility where women are – even if he was a man,” North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said. “Obviously there is the security risk of a sexual predator, but there is the issue of privacy.”

Perez said something as simple as using the correct restroom affects the transgender community in major ways and shouldn’t be targeted as a place of violence or threat.

“For members of the transgender community, being able to use the correct facility of their preferred gender is a major step and of great importance in their transition,” Perez said. “If we were to impose a standard of femininity or masculinity everyone would be affected, especially people of the transgender community. Transitioning is a lengthy process and being able to use the bathroom of their preferred gender is crucial. There are many forms, and representations of femininity and masculinity, and to put a standard on both would be detrimental to the transgender community, and their transitioning process.”

Opponents of the bill – and supporters of the HERO ordinance – are not convinced that lawmakers have the safety and privacy of citizens at heart.

Doctor Clayton A. Alfonso, a physician in North Carolina, wrote an article for the Charlotte Observer condemning HB2.

“House Bill 2 was drafted to discriminate against the transgender community – human beings whose sex assigned to them at birth and their gender identity do not conform to societal expectations,” Alfonso said. “Every human being has a gender identity and a sexual orientation. Every human being is equal and should have equal protection under the law. This is not just our position as medical and mental health providers, it is the truth and constitutionally and ethically correct.”

The Supreme Court precedent that could bring the constitutional legality of HB2 into question is Romer v Evans, where the Rehnquist Court (1994-2005) ruled that it was unconstitutional for Colorado to pass Amendment 2 – a bill that blocked the ability of Colorado cities from employing protections to LGBTQI individuals.

Amendment 2 was found in violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Equal Protection Clause – which states that no state can deny a citizen equal protection under the law.

The argument is that by denying transgender people the right to use the bathroom that they identify with, the law is disproportionately protecting the supporters for HB2 and has unequal representation for the LGBTQI community.

“Members of the transgender community are just like every other individual, and needing to go to the appropriate facility to take care of business is no exception,” Perez said. “In my opinion, if others are worried about members of the trans community being perpetrators, which they are not, then more gender neutral bathrooms need to be more readily available to protect the trans community and to eliminate any negative attitudes about them being perpetrators.”