NC Atty. Gen. Refuses to Defend Ban on City Transgender 'Bathroom Bills'

Raleigh Capital Building
North Carolina state capital building in Raleigh. |

North Carolina's attorney general says he will not defend the state's new law banning city ordinances that would allow people to enter the bathroom of their choice.

After the city of Charlotte passed an anti-discrimination ordinance last month giving men and women the legal right to use the bathrooms designated for the gender they self-identify as, the state's House and Senate quickly passed the law in order to prevent the cities and counties from passing their own anti-discrimination laws.

Roy Cooper
North Carolina Attorney Gen. Roy Cooper |

After Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law last Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and other LGBT advocacy organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the state.

The lawsuit claims that H.B. 2 singles out "LGBT people for disfavored treatment" and explicitly writes "discrimination against transgender people into state law."

North Carolina Attorney Gen. Roy Cooper, bashed the law as a "national embarrassment" on Tuesday and pledged not to defend it in court.

"House Bill 2 is unconstitutional," Cooper said at a news conference on Tuesday. "Therefore, our office will not represent the defendants in this lawsuit."

Cooper's remarks come comes as he is the Democratic challenger to McCrory in the 2016 North Carolina gubernatorial election.

"We are here because the governor has signed statewide legislation that puts discrimination into the law," Cooper argued. "Not only is this new law a national embarrassment, it will set North Carolina's economy back if we don't' repeal it.

"We know that businesses here and all over the country have taken a strong stance in opposition to this law," he added.

Cooper is correct that a number of businesses have lashed out at North Carolina for passing the law.

Also on Tuesday, leaders from dozens of large technology, biotechnology and financial companies signed onto a letter urging state officials to overturn the law. Included in the signatures were those of Apple CEO Tim Cook, IBM CEO Virginia Rometty, and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Bank of America, which is headquartered in Charlotte, announced in a tweet Tuesday that its leadership also joins about 80 other companies in opposition to the law.

The National Basketball Association implied in a tweet last week that it might consider relocating the 2017 All Star game away from Charlotte.

In an interview with NBC News on Monday, Gov. McCrory argued that all the backlash surrounding the passage of H.B. 2 is nothing more than "political theatre."

"This political correctness has gone amok," McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, said.

"Would you want a man to walk into your daughter's shower and legally be able to do that because mentally they think they are of the other gender?" McCrory added. "I happen to disagree with that, but I'll allow business to make that decision themselves."

Leading evangelist Franklin Graham, a Charlotte native, issued a similar argument after the Charlotte ordinance was passed by the city council in late February.

"To think that my granddaughters could go into a restroom and a man be in there exposing himself," Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrote on Facebook. "What are we setting our children and grandchildren up for? There's not a public restroom in Charlotte that would be safe!"

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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