Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Warns State to Void Transgender Bias Law ; Justice Department Says North Carolina Measure Violates Civil Rights

Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Warns State to Void Transgender Bias Law ; Justice Department Says North Carolina Measure Violates Civil Rights

Article excerpt

The Justice Department said the measure violates federal law under Title VII, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

The Justice Department has warned the State of North Carolina that its new law limiting bathroom access violated the civil rights of transgender people, a finding that could mean millions of dollars in lost federal funds.

In a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory, Vanita Gupta, the top civil rights lawyer for the Justice Department, said that "both you and the State of North Carolina" were in violation of civil rights law, and gave him until Monday to decide "whether you will remedy these violations."

A Justice Department official said on Wednesday that federal officials hoped that the state would agree to comply voluntarily with federal civil rights law by abandoning the measure. But the department has a number of tools it can use to try to force compliance, including denying federal funds or asking a court to do so, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The ultimatum escalated a contentious national debate over North Carolina's new legal stance on transgender and gay people, and set up what could be a lengthy showdown between the state and the Obama administration.

In a statement, Mr. McCrory, a Republican, said: "The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy. We will be reviewing to determine the next steps."

Phil Berger, the president pro tempore of the State Senate, accused the Justice Department of "a gross overreach" that he said "deserves to be struck down in federal court." Tim Moore, the speaker of the House, called the letter an attempt to "circumvent the will of the electorate and instead unilaterally exert its extreme agenda."

The state measure, House Bill 2, known as HB2, was signed into law in March and says the bathroom a person uses is determined by his or her biological gender at birth. That requirement "is facially discriminatory against transgender employees" because it treats them differently from other employees, Ms. …

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