ACLU and Lambda Legal Challenge Fake Repeal of North Carolina’s Discriminatory HB 2

Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal announced they have taken steps to expand the federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law HB 2 to include a challenge to its discriminatory replacement, HB 142, which left many of the harms caused by HB 2 in place.  The advocacy groups also added two LGBT North Carolinians to the case.

HB 142 – the anti-transgender replacement for HB 2 – bars the “regulation” of access to restrooms and other facilities in schools and other state or local government buildings in North Carolina, leaving transgender people vulnerable to discrimination and even possible arrest.  It also prevents cities from passing any protections against discrimination in private employment or places of public accommodation — for LGBT people or anyone — until 2020.

“LGBT North Carolinians deserve to feel secure in knowing that when they go about their daily lives and interact with businesses open to the public, any discrimination they encounter is illegal, but HB 142 robs of them of that security,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “This law continues to invite discrimination against LGBT people, particularly transgender people, and sends a daily message that LGBT people across the state are not worthy of equal dignity and respect.”

“After publicly vilifying transgender people for more than a year, legislators can’t just abandon transgender people to fend for themselves in the toxic environment of fear and animosity that the legislature itself created.  HB 142 doubles down on many of the worst harms of HB 2 and leaves transgender people in a legal limbo where they remain uniquely vulnerable to discrimination,” said Tara Borelli, counsel with Lambda Legal. “Transgender people face an impossible situation where no door leads to safety.  Anyone would find that intolerable.”

Madeline “Maddy” Goss, 41, is a woman who lives in Raleigh. She is transgender and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2006. Like other women, she uses women’s restrooms in all aspects of her life and all her identity documents reflect her female gender. A native-born North Carolinian, Goss is parent to an 11-year-old daughter and she enjoys teaching Tae Kwon Do. As an LGBT advocate, Goss frequently visits the General Assembly in Raleigh to lobby the legislature with ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina. Even though her license says female, Goss worries about her safety when using the restrooms at the General Assembly. The passage of HB 2 felt like an invitation to discriminate against people like Goss, and HB 142 has perpetuated that harm because the law has created significant uncertainty about her right to use women’s restrooms.

“I don’t have the option to use the men’s restroom, and I don’t have the luxury to not think about my safety every time I use the women’s restroom,” said Goss. “I know all too well what can happen to a transgender person in the restroom because a stranger won’t just let you be. It’s even scarier now that there is so much confusion about which restrooms I can use and I worry that I am not safe to use any restroom in North Carolina because of this discrimination.”

Quinton Harper, 32, is a bisexual cisgender black man who works as a community organizer and lives in Carrboro, North Carolina.  A longtime advocate for people living with HIV, Harper is a national leader in the fight against the epidemic.  He is politically active and he has served on administrative boards for the city of Carrboro and Orange County, two governments that have considered passing nondiscrimination policies. Because of HB 142, Harper and the many LGBT people he works with in his community are without the protections that a nondiscrimination policy could provide.

“Under HB 142, North Carolina is sending a message to LGBT people like me that we are not welcome here, that we are not deserving of protection from discrimination, and that we are not equally valued members of our communities,” Harper said. “North Carolina should be taking steps to protect and support these members of our community, but HB 142 does the opposite: it puts people like me at greater risk of harm.”

The ACLU, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal have worked on Carcaño v. McCrory (now known as Carcaño v. Cooper), a federal court challenge to HB 2, for more than a year on behalf of four LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina. The organizations will continue to defend the right of transgender people to use restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity, as federal law requires. The proposed amended lawsuit, filed today, adds two more LGBT North Carolinians and includes claims to address the harms inflicted by both HB 2 and HB 142.

The other plaintiffs in this case are: Joaquín Carcaño, 28, a UNC-Chapel Hill employee from Durham; Payton McGarry, 20, a UNC-Greensboro student who was born and raised in Wilson; Hunter Schafer, 18, a transgender woman who recently graduated from UNC School of the Arts high school in Winston-Salem; and Angela Gilmore, 54, a North Carolina Central University law professor. Also named plaintiff in the lawsuit is the ACLU of North Carolina and its members.

To read the amended complaint: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/carcano-v-mccrory-fourth-amended-complaint