Tag Archives: legal challenge

Groups ask court for broader injunction to protect transgender people in North Carolina

LGBT rights groups challenging the North Carolina law that bans transgender people from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identity this week filed their opening brief on appeal, requesting that the preliminary injunction in the case be broadened to protect all transgender people in the state from discrimination.

In August, a district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the North Carolina university system from enforcing H.B. 2 against the three individual transgender plaintiffs in the lawsuit Carcaño v. McCrory, which is scheduled for trial in May 2017. The advocates also asked the Fourth Circuit to expedite the appeal and schedule oral argument for January.

“Every day that H.B. 2 singles out transgender North Carolinians – whether at school, at work, or just moving through their daily lives – is another day that the transgender community is told that they are second class,” said Chris Brook, ACLU of North Carolina legal director. “Though the district court recognized the serious harm to three of our clients at UNC as a result of H.B. 2, that recognition unfortunately didn’t extend to the harms that law inflicts on other transgender individuals in public buildings across North Carolina. We hope and expect that the Fourth Circuit will expand this ruling to protect all transgender people.”

The appeal filed this week argues that H.B. 2 violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it specifically targets transgender people, and that discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination.

While North Carolina has argued that H.B. 2 advances interests in public safety and privacy, Lambda Legal and the ACLU argue that these interests, which can be protected in other ways, do not justify the harms H.B. 2 imposes on transgender people and that to restore the status quo, the court must grant a broader preliminary injunction while the case proceeds to trial.

“H.B. 2 makes transgender North Carolinians pariahs in their own state. Courthouses, airports, libraries, public schools, highway rest stops, police departments, state hospitals and the very halls of government itself are now unsafe for, and unwelcome to, transgender North Carolinians,” said Jon W. Davidson, National Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair at Lambda Legal. “Such unequal treatment simply cannot be squared with the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise of equality under the law. The Fourth Circuit should order this broader relief, pending trial.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal and the law firm of Jenner & Block are challenging the law in federal court on behalf of four LGBT North Carolinians in addition to members of the ACLU of North Carolina.

The lawsuit, Carcaño v. McCrory, was filed days after H.B. 2 was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory. In it, the groups argue that H.B. 2 sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect and protections afforded to others, and that transgender individuals are expelled from public life since they are not allowed to use the restrooms and changing facilities that match who they are.

Tech giants join rebuke of North Carolina law blocking LGBT rights

Technology giants Apple, Google and Facebook are among a dozen big companies or their top executives objecting to a North Carolina law that bars municipalities from adopting their own anti-discrimination ordinances.

Facebook, Google and Apple each run massive data-processing complexes in western North Carolina.

They joined American Airlines, IBM and others in reacting to a state law quickly adopted on March 23 that blocked local government measures to counter discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

None of the high-profile companies have threatened to immediately withdraw business from North Carolina.

San Francisco’s mayor on March 25 banned city workers from non-essential travel to North Carolina. The city, which has a large LGBT population, “will not subsidize legally sanctioned discrimination,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement.

The Charlotte ordinance would have enabled transgender people to legally use restrooms aligned with their gender identity and would have provided broad protections against discrimination in public accommodations in the state’s largest city.

North Carolina is the first state to require public school and university students to use only those bathrooms that match their birth certificates, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.

Civil rights advocates say state legislators demonized LGBT people with bogus claims about bathroom risks. Supporters say the new law protects all people from having to share bathrooms with people who make them feel unsafe.

 

Support for the law

Some other businesses have voiced support for the measure Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law, a spokesman for his re-election campaign said. Spokesman Ricky Diaz did not respond when asked which businesses backed the governor’s decision.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat challenging McCrory this fall, opposes the law.

He said he’s worried actions by the GOP-led legislature and the governor could harm the state’s chances to land or keep sporting events such as the NCAA basketball tournament and the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte in 2017. Both organizations released statements about the law on March 24, but stopped short of saying they would not hold the events in the city.

“Not only is it wrong to discriminate, but we should not be putting our economy in jeopardy,” Cooper told 99.9 The Fan, a Raleigh-area radio station, calling the actions creating the law “a national embarrassment.”

McCrory and his allies have blamed Cooper for failing to intervene before the General Assembly did to stop Charlotte’s ordinance. McCrory said Thursday that Cooper has “lost touch” with the privacy norms the public expects while using a restroom or locker room.

About 200 protesters blocked a downtown Raleigh street in front of the state’s Executive Mansion on March 24. Police said in a statement that five people were arrested after they sat down in the street and refused orders to disperse.

McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, stays in the mansion while in the state capital but was not there at the time of the protest, spokesman Josh Ellis said.

 

Breaking today in North Carolina

LGBT civil rights groups were preparing on March 28 to announce a legal challenge to the North Carolina law. The lawsuit is being filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on behalf of several organizations and individuals who will be harmed by the law.

Arkansas attorney general backs marriage equality, but defends gay ban

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said over the weekend that he supports allowing same-sex couples to wed but will continue defending his state’s 2004 ban on gay marriages in court.

McDaniel, a Democrat serving his final year as the state’s top attorney, became the first statewide official in Arkansas to back same-sex marriage.

“I want to tell you I do support marriage equality and I do believe Arkansans should have the right to be equal in the eyes of the law,” said McDaniel, speaking at the Associated Press Managing Editors convention.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but that ban and others nationwide are facing legal challenges.

Seventeen states allow gay marriage, and federal judges have struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia. A state judge is expected to rule by Friday in a lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ ban.

“I’m going to zealously defend our constitution, but at the same time I think it’s important to let people where I stand on the matter,” McDaniel told the AP after his speech.

McDaniel said during a question-and-answer session with editors that there wasn’t any single incident that changed his mind about gay marriage.

“It’s become more and more difficult for me to accept the idea of anyone being treated as a second class citizen,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel announced his support for gay marriage after criticizing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for telling his state counterparts in February they weren’t obligated to defend laws in their states banning same-sex marriage if the laws discriminate in a way forbidden by the Constitution.

McDaniel said he didn’t believe attorneys general should allow their personal views to influence whether they defend a state law.

“I do not take orders from Eric Holder and I’m determined to live up to my obligation, and that includes with regard to our state’s definition of marriage,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel had voiced support for civil unions when he ran for attorney general in 2006, but said then he believed marriage was between a man and a woman. McDaniel ran briefly for governor but dropped out early last year after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a Hot Springs attorney.

McDaniel said after his speech that he had considered backing marriage equality during that brief bid for the state’s top office.

“Even when I was running for governor, there were times when I was like, `don’t you think it’s time that I just say this and be done with it?'” McDaniel said. “It’s controversial. There are some people who are going to think it was a great thing that I made this statement while in office, and there are going to be some people who are going to be deeply offended and angry. It really came down to why not today?”

McDaniel said he was not calling on any other statewide officials or candidates to support gay marriage, and said he would not campaign for ending the ban while serving as attorney general.

His announcement appeared unlikely to sway the state’s other top Democrats, who are trying to prevent a GOP takeover of Arkansas’ elected offices this fall. U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, who is running for governor, remain opposed to gay marriage, their spokesmen said Saturday. Pryor, the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, is running for re-election against Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton.

The head of the group that campaigned for the ban in 2004 said he was surprised by McDaniel’s comments but still had faith in McDaniel’s office to defend the amendment.

“I’m disappointed because he didn’t have to take a position one way or the other. It is disappointing that he has taken this position,” said Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council. “However, I do not doubt the ability of his staff to adequately defend the Arkansas marriage amendment because I believe the people on his staff are very capable lawyers and I have seen them work very capably on other issues.”

The head of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, praised McDaniel for his comments.

“Today Attorney General McDaniel adds his voice to an ever-growing chorus of Americans from across the country that are standing up for the right of all couples to marry-and there is no turning back that tide,” HRC President Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native, said in a statement released by the group. “As a proud Arkansan, I know it’s only a matter of time before committed and loving gay and lesbian couples in my home state get to enjoy all the rights and benefits that come with civil marriage.”

Hobby Lobby case against Obamacare bound for court

Attorneys for Hobby Lobby Stores and the federal government are headed to court over the arts-and-crafts chain’s request to block provisions of the new health care law – lovingly and derisively known as Obamacare – that requires employers to cover insurance costs for the morning-after pill.

The hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6 in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City.

The Christian-oriented company wants an injunction to prevent the new health care rules from being enforced.

Hobby Lobby owners allege the federal government is challenging their faith by forcing the company to offer the pill. Critics of the contraceptive say it’s the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.

The government says Hobby Lobby is a secular employer that by definition does not exercise religion.