By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
May 13, 2016
RALEIGH – The debate that some regarded as a tempest in a teapot in February when the Charlotte City Council decided to give transgender people access to the bathroom of their choice has become a national issue that sparked four lawsuits in the past week.
House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act — passed by the North Carolina General Assembly just in time to preclude Charlotte’s ordinance — has been welcomed by thousands across the state who value their privacy and want to keep sexual predators from gaining access to women and children. But the law has drawn fire from the LGBT community, from corporate activists and from the U.S. Justice Department which issued a letter May 4 accusing the state of violating Titles VII and IX of the Civil Rights Act.
It was that letter, giving N.C. Governor Pat McCrory five days to agree not to enforce the law, that prompted the flurry of litigation.
On Monday, the governor filed a declaratory judgment action asking the federal courts to clarify federal law.
“The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina,” said McCrory. “We believe a court, rather than a federal agency, should tell our state, our nation and employers across the country what the law requires.”
His lawsuit points out that “the overwhelming weight of legal authority recognizes that transgender status is not a protected class under Title VII.”
“If the United States desires a new protected class under Title VII, it must seek such action by the United States Congress,” the suit contends.
Before the ink was dry on his filing, the Department of Justice filed a civil rights lawsuit against McCrory, the state, the Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina.
“We are seeking a court order declaring House Bill 2’s restroom restriction impermissibly discriminatory, as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told the media, going further to threaten that the Obama administration would “retain the option of curtailing federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina as this case proceeds.”
Facing the threat of having federal funds withheld from a number of state programs, North Carolina lawmakers did not back down. Instead, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) filed the third suit of the week, an action similar to Gov. McCrory’s in the federal Eastern District of North Carolina, asking the court to declare that maintaining sex-specific restrooms complies with federal law.
“It’s unacceptable for the Obama administration to try to intimidate North Carolina taxpayers into accepting their radical reinterpretation of a law meant to protect women from discrimination into a law that would actually deny women their right to basic safety and privacy,” the lawmakers wrote in a joint statement. “What the Obama administration is arguing has never been written into law by Congress or settled in the courts.”
Joining the legal battle against the Obama administration’s overreach on Tuesday was Alliance Defending Freedom, whose attorneys filed suit against the U.S. departments of Justice and Education on behalf of students and parents at North Carolina public schools and universities.
“The administration shouldn’t condition the ability of women to receive an education on their willingness to shower with members of the opposite sex,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We have filed suit to stop both agencies from bullying schools and universities. The agencies must stop using falsehoods about what federal law requires to threaten student access to educational opportunities and financial assistance.”
At the heart of the fourth suit is the Obama administration’s new interpretation of Title IX, a 1972 federal law that specifically states that a school receiving federal funds can “provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex” without putting that funding at risk.
“It’s ironic that laws from the 1960s and 70s that were enacted to combat sexual harassment and discrimination by men against women are now being used against women, specifically by letting men use women’s showers and locker rooms against their will,” said ADF Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek, who spoke Monday at a press conference in Raleigh.
By Thursday, the White House seemed to be backing down on threats to withhold federal funding while the lawsuits are pending.
“The Obama administration admitted what we have said all along — that their threat to withhold funding and bully North Carolinians into accepting their radical argument that men have a ‘civil right’ to use women’s bathrooms and shower facilities would have to be settled in court,” Berger said in response to the news out of Washington.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, continues to encourage Tar Heel lawmakers in their battle to defend common sense and protect residents’ privacy and safety while resisting the cultural push to obliterate male and female distinctives.
“The Bible says God created them ‘male and female.’ We cannot escape or redefine this with impunity,” he said in a recent statement calling on Christians to earnestly pray for our state and national leaders.