RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s Republican leaders are showing no signs of backing down from their new bathroom rules despite the U.S. Justice Department’s declaration that they violate federal civil rights laws and could cost the state dearly in lost education funding.
Gov. Pat McCrory called the Justice Department’s threat — which gives the state and its university system until the close of business Monday to change the law or face the consequences in court — a broad overreach of federal authority.
“This is no longer just a North Carolina issue, because this conclusion by the Department of Justice impacts every state,” McCrory said.
The North Carolina law, which requires transgender people to use public bathrooms conforming to the sex on their birth certificate, and limits protections for LGBT people, has been broadly condemned by gay-rights groups, businesses, sports leagues and entertainers, some of whom have relocated offices or canceled events in the state. Several other states have proposed similar laws limiting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protections in recent months.
“I thought it was a very common-sense rule, but the federal government is now saying those are discriminatory practices,” McCrory said during a Wednesday evening forum with the state’s chamber of commerce in Raleigh.
McCrory and House Speaker Tim Moore, who helped pass the law the governor signed in March, said separately they would be examining the state’s options. Moore told reporters the letter to McCrory was an attempt by President Barack Obama’s administration to push a “radical left agenda” in his final months in office.
“Basic concepts — common sense about privacy and expectations of privacy — are getting thrown out the window by what the Obama administration is trying to do in this,” Moore said.
The Justice Department said the North Carolina law violates federal Civil Rights Act protections barring workplace and student discrimination based on sex. Various federal agencies have further defined these protections as extending to transgender people, declaring that it violates the law to prevent people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity.