Well, it’s happening. U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch has announced that the Department of Justice will be suing the state of North Carolina for failing to meet the deadline to amend its bathroom bill. What’s going on, who’s suing who, and what’s next?
What’s going on?
The heart of the issue is a bill called “HB2” in North Carolina, which states that people must use the public restroom corresponding the gender on their birth certificate. The targets members of the transgender community, who no longer identify with their birth gender. Proponents of the bill say they are trying to protect women from sex predators in public restrooms. Critics say, well, the bill unfairly targets a minority group.
Is the bill actually discrimination?
The Department of Justice thinks so. During the first week of May, they sent a memo to North Carolina Governor Pat McRory, telling him that HB2 violated federal civil rights laws against sex discrimination at work. According to that memo, North Carolina had until Monday, May 9 to, in essence, knock it off. “What this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has suffered far more than its fair share,” Lynch said, talking about transgendered people. “We see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you.” According to Lynch, North Carolina could adjust the law or they could repeal it, but they could not leave it as it was.
But they did.
Not just that, but they doubled down with a lawsuit against the Department of Justice, calling the DOJ’s position “a baseless and blatant overreach,” that represents “an attempt to unilaterally rewrite long-established federal civil rights laws in a manner that is wholly inconsistent with the intent of Congress and disregards decades of statutory interpretation by the courts.” With the lawsuit, Governor McRory seeks “declaratory and injunctive relief” against (deep breath) the United States of America, the United States Department of Justice, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, “for their radical reinterpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 which would prevent plaintiffs from protecting the bodily privacy rights of state employees while accommodating the needs of transgendered state employees.”
What’s that mean?
Well, in the governor’s own words:
But the Department of Justice is also suing North Carolina.
“constitutes a pattern or practice of employment discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964… discrimination on the basis of sex in an education program receiving federal funds in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.. and discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity in programs receiving federal funds in violation of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.”
Basically, the DOJ is saying HB2 (“the bathroom bill”) violates civil rights laws, which means it’s unconstitutional, which means you theoretically can’t do it in this country. Of course, discrimination in America is even older than the Constitution, so the logic is a little shaky, but nevertheless noble.
This is the law that some people are boycotting or something, right?
Right. So far Paypal, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and Apple have all announced that they’re going to be sitting out of North Carolina until the law is repealed, and Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Cirque de Soleil, Ringo Starr and Boston have all canceled shows in the state. Beyonce didn’t cancel, but she did give a message of support to transgendered people in North Carolina. Also, the NCAA and the NBA have both hinted that they would cancel events in North Carolina if the law wasn’t rolled back.
So, what’s going to happen?
Good question. The government is threatening to withhold federal funding from North Carolina if they don’t comply. If North Carolina wins the lawsuit, their bathroom law will continue unabated.
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If you have spent any time watching television in the last decade you have most likely heard one of Mattew’s songs on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, One Tree Hill and many others. His insightful writing and voice have drawn comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley, and he is on the short list of songwriters who skillfully weave the deeply philosophical and the vivid utterly human without ever losing sight of either.
To get his new album Cold Answer, (which features the three songs from him you heard on this episode), visit MPJmusic.com.
Branden sits down with writer and speaker Tyler Huckabee days after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States to talk about empathy, justice, listening, and where we go from here.
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We appreciate everyone sticking with us through this long hiatus but are planning our return even as we speak, with a bunch of new goodies and an updated format. In the meantime, here’s a brief primer on Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange — just so you can go into the movie knowing what you’re getting yourself into.