Federal Judge to Hear Arguments on Blocking NC HB2

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As legal bills for the governor and legislators defending House Bill 2 climb above $176,000, lawyers arguing for and against the controversial law will step into a federal courtroom on Monday to begin a judicial process of great interest to people outside this state.

North Carolina has been an epicenter of the national debate over transgender rights since Charlotte adopted its ordinance barring discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and the state responded by adopting HB2 to overturn the city’s ordinance.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder will hold a hearing in federal court in Winston-Salem on a request from the first challengers of HB2 to block the law until they can make their case at trial.

The U.S. Justice Department has made a similar request in a lawsuit that in many ways mirrors the arguments brought by the first challengers – three transgender residents, a lesbian law professor at N.C. Central University and a lesbian couple in Charlotte.

The General Assembly adopted HB2 in an emergency session on March 23 that cost $42,000 to bring lawmakers and their staffs back to Raleigh. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law hours later.

HB2, which has resulted in entertainment boycotts, businesses canceling expansion plans, late-night TV host jokes and the NBA moving its 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte, prohibits local governments from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances tougher than state law, which does not extend protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The more widely discussed provision of the “bathroom bill” made North Carolina the first state to ban people from using government-owned restrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates.

Critics not only describe the law as a “hate bill” that discriminates against transgender people but also point out that lawmakers did not include any enforcement mechanism.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal, a gay rights advocacy group, and the American Civil Liberties Union include:

▪ Joaquin Carcaño, a Latino, transgender man who works at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease.

▪ Payton Grey McGarry, a white, transgender man and full-time student at UNC-Greensboro, where he is double-majoring in business administration and accounting.

▪ Angela Gilmore, an African-American lesbian who lives in Durham and works at the N.C. Central University school of law.

▪ Hunter Schafer, a transgender girl at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School in Winston-Salem.

▪ Beverly Newell, a real estate agent, and Kelly Trent, 39, a registered nurse, who are a married lesbian couple living in Charlotte.

“This is a case about whether transgender individuals in North Carolina can participate in public life,” the request for injunctive relief states.

The challengers mention a decision in the case of a Virginia transgender teen fighting his school system’s decision to prohibit him from using restrooms and locker rooms that match his gender identity. In the Virginia case, a panel of appellate judges in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that Title IX, the federal law that protects against gender discrimination, also prohibits discrimination against transgender people as a class.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to fully address that issue, the challengers of HB2 say the decision has an impact on North Carolina because it’s one of the states in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court district.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article92954467.html#storylink=cpy