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Liberal groups sue North Carolina over transgender bathroom law

Protestors react to a new law that Gov. Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) signed that revoked an ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)
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Gay rights advocates advanced a fight in one state on Monday, just as they scored a victory in another.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and Equality North Carolina sued that state over a measure that they described in the suit as “explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law,” while Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) vetoed a hard-fought bill that gay rights advocates described in the same language.

At issue in North Carolina is a measure introduced, voted on and signed into law in a single day last week overriding a recently passed Charlotte city ordinance expanding civil rights protections on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and allowing transgender people to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity.

Proponents of the new law were particularly vocal about their opposition to the transgender bathroom rights granted by that city measure.

North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper says he will not defend the state's transgender bathroom use law. (Video: Reuters)

‘Wrong beyond repair.’ ‘The worst in us.’ N.C. papers blast transgender bathroom law.

“The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte,” by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said in a statement when he signed the law last Wednesday. “This radical breach of trust and security under the false argument of equal access not only impacts the citizens of Charlotte but people who come to Charlotte to work, visit or play.”

North Carolina blocks local governments from enacting ordinances to allow transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their gender identities. (Video: Reuters)

The groups behind the suit contend that the policy is nothing short of legalized discrimination.

“Lawmakers made no attempt to cloak their actions in a veneer of neutrality, instead openly and virulently attacking transgender people, who were falsely portrayed as predatory and dangerous to others,” they write in the suit, brought on behalf of three North Carolina residents and several groups. Two of the residents are transgender, while the other is a lesbian.

The groups are suing the state, specifically McCrory, Attorney General Roy Cooper III and W. Louis Bissette Jr., the chairman of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.

They argue that the law: deprives the residents of their constitutional right to equal protection under the law; violates their right to privacy; violates their freedom to refuse unwanted medical treatment by forcing them to undergo medical procedures to use facilities in line with their gender identity; and violates Title IX protections against discrimination based on sex.

Georgia governor vetoes religious freedom bill criticized as anti-gay

The lawsuit was filed the same day that gay rights advocates won a victory in Georgia, where Deal announced a veto of a religious liberty bill that would have allowed religious organizations to refuse certain services if providing them conflicted with their beliefs.

Deal’s veto came after weeks of public pressure from some of America’s largest corporations—opposition that spread from Silicon Valley to the sports industry to Hollywood, with members of each threatening to withdraw business from the state. North Carolina has faced similar pressure over its new law from companies including American Airlines, Apple, GoogleMarriottMicrosoftNBA, and PayPal.