North Carolina’s attorney general will not defend the state’s contentious transgender bathroom law, saying he believes it should be repealed because it is discriminatory, the Associated Press reports.
The American Civil Liberties Union partnered with other LGBT advocacy groups to file a lawsuit Monday against the state of North Carolina over a law banning ordinances that would allow people to use bathrooms reflecting their perceived true gender, regardless of their biological gender.
But now Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper has said he will not defend the law in court. The situation is even more tense because Cooper is facing off against Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who has become the face of the law, for the governorship in November.
In a similar case, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis took serious flak and was even jailed for her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses. She cited her religious faith and was jailed after. Eventually a compromise was worked out where Davis did not have to sign the licenses. Davis was lambasted on all sides with the argument that she has an obligation to fulfill her job title, including in a Reuters opinion piece titled “Welcome back to work Kim Davis, now just do your job.”
The North Carolina Department of Justice website outlines the duties of the attorney general, which are the same in every state:
As head of the North Carolina Department of Justice, the Attorney General provides legal representation and advice to all state government departments, agencies and commissions. The Attorney General also provides legal opinions at the request of other public officials and handles all criminal appeals from state trial courts.
Charlotte’s city council passed the ordinance to take effect April 1. Supporters of the ordinance described it as an anti-discrimination bill that protects transgender people, but opponents said men would exploit it to legally use women’s restrooms and locker rooms. The bill, signed March 23, prevents local governments from enacting similar ordinances. The lawsuit represents transgender plaintiffs, including Payton Grey McGarry, who say the law is discriminatory.
“Using the women’s restroom is not a viable option for Mr. McGarry, just as it would not be a viable option for non-transgender men to be forced to use the women’s restroom,” the lawsuit reads. “Forcing Mr. McGarry to use the women’s restroom would also cause substantial harm to his mental health and well-being. It would also force him to disclose to others the fact that he is transgender, which itself could lead to violence and harassment.”
Conservatives pointed to the privacy violations and the potential for men to exploit the law to go into women’s facilities.
“The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte,” McCrory said in a statement about signing the bill. “This radical breach of trust and security under the false argument of equal access not only impacts the citizens of Charlotte but people who come to Charlotte to work, visit or play. This new government regulation defies common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman’s bathroom, shower or locker room.”
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