North Carolina Democrats file new bill rewriting non-discrimination law

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said they commend North Carolina Representatives Chris Sgro, Pricey Harrison, Susan Fisher, and Kelly Alexander Tuesday for introducing a LGBT non-discrimination bill in the NC General Assembly. 

Officials said this bill would be a companion to HB 946, sponsored by Representatives Jackson, Meyer, Hamilton and G. Martin, and SB 784, sponsored by Senators Van Duyn, J. Jackson, and Woodard.

“Rather than wasting taxpayer dollars defending an indefensible attempt to defy federal civil rights laws, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly should repeal HB2 and replace it with this common sense LGBT non-discrimination bill,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs in a written statement, released on Tuesday. “This bill is an important step forward that would ensure that everyone, including LGBT people, can live free from fear of discrimination.”

“We have always known, and come to understand even more urgently during the HB2 debate, the incredible need for non-discrimination protections for LGBT and other North Carolinians,” said Representative Chris Sgro, one of the sponsors of the legislation in a written statement, released on Tuesday. “This bill, along with the repeal of HB2, is the important next step that this General Assembly and Governor McCrory must take in order to make North Carolina a true state of equality and help heal our national reputation.”

Just last week, the U.S. Justice Department said the law amounts to illegal sex discrimination against transgender people and gave Gov. McCrory until Monday to say he would refuse to enforce it.

McCrory instead doubled down by filing a federal lawsuit Monday arguing that the North Carolina law is a "commonsense privacy policy" and that the Justice Department's position is "baseless and blatant overreach."

The governor accused the Obama administration of unilaterally rewriting federal civil rights law to protect transgender people's access to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers across the country.

Later in the day, the Justice Department responded by suing North Carolina, seeking a court order declaring the law discriminatory.

"Gender identity is innate and external efforts to change a person's gender identity can be harmful to a person's health and well-being," the department said.

The North Carolina law has set off protests by gay rights groups and triggered cancelations and boycotts, with stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam calling off shows. PayPal abandoned a planned 400-employee operation center in Charlotte, and Deutsche Bank froze expansion plans near Raleigh.

Nearly 200 corporate leaders from across the country, including Charlotte-based Bank of America, have urged the law's repeal, arguing it is bad for business because it makes recruiting talented employees more difficult.

Several other states have proposed similar laws in recent months limiting protections for gay, bisexual and transgender people. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi sued that state over a law that will allow workers to cite their religious objections to gay marriage to deny services to people.

Defenders of the North Carolina law have argued that it necessary to protect the safety and privacy of people in bathrooms. But opponents have argued that the danger of a transgender person molesting someone in a restroom is all but imaginary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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