RALEIGH, N.C. - A North Carolina law limiting protections to LGBT people violates federal civil rights protections and can't be enforced, the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday, putting the state on notice that it is in danger of being sued and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.
The law, which also requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that conform to the sex on their birth certificate, has been broadly condemned by gay-rights groups, businesses and entertainers, some of whom have relocated offices or canceled shows in the state. Several other states have proposed similar laws limiting LGBT protections in recent months.
In a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory, the Justice Department said federal officials view the state law as violating federal Civil Rights Act protections barring workplace discrimination based on sex. Provisions of the state law directed at transgender state employees violate their anti-discrimination protections, the letter said.
"The State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you, in your official capacity, and the state are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance" of their rights, the letter said.
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"HB 2 is a discriminatory, dangerous piece of legislation and today the Department of Justice confirmed that it violates federal civil rights law," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "We commend the Justice Department for enforcing the rule of law and protecting the rights of North Carolinians. We once again urge Governor McCrory and the state of North Carolina to immediately do the same and fully repeal this harmful bill."
"The letter confirms what we've already known - that HB2 is deeply discriminatory, violates federal civil rights law, and needs to be repealed as soon as possible," said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. "We've already lost $500 million in economic impact and now we are violating federal civil rights law and risking Title IX funding. This is a travesty and embarrassment for North Carolina. There is a repeal bill filed in the House, and it should be considered immediately."
Governor Pat McCrory responds to letter from Dept. of Justice:
"A claim by the Obama administration charges that one part of House Bill 2, which requires state employees in public government buildings and students in our universities to use a restroom, locker room and shower facility that match their biological sex, is now in violation of federal law. The Obama administration has not only staked out its position for North Carolina, but for all states, universities and most employers in the U.S.
"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."