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RALEIGH, N.C. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Obama administration is threatening North Carolina with lawsuits unless the state ceases to enforce its controversial transgender bathroom bill.
In a note sent Wednesday to Republican governor Pat McCrory, the U.S. Justice Department argued House Bill 2 (HB2), which requires self-described transgender individuals to use the public restroom that corresponds with their true gender, is in violation of the Civil Rights Act and therefore must not be enforced. According to the letter, failure to formally announce "the state will not comply with or implement HB2" by Monday May 9 may result in federal lawsuits and a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal education funding, which would eliminate the nearly $900 million in funding for public schools and nearly $1.5 billion received annually by the University of North Carolina.
The Justice Department specifically cites alleged violations of Title IX, which forbids discrimination based on sex in educational institutions, and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination.
"The State," a portion of the letter reads, "is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you [Gov. McCrory], in your official capacity, and the state are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment" of rights by transgender individuals.
HB2, signed into law on March 25, was drafted in response to a proposed ordinance from the city of Charlotte that would have allowed those with gender dysphoria to use the restroom of their choosing, in addition to complaints received from women who had been abused in public bathrooms. The passage of HB2, approved by the Republican-controlled general assembly, successfully pre-empted the Charlotte ordinance.
Since its passage, the Obama administration has voiced its displeasure over the legislation, releasing a statement March 28 saying:
This Administration is strongly committed to advancing the cause of equality for LGBT Americans and to ensuring that they do not face discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love. ... [W]e are concerned about the potential harmful impact of this law, especially on transgender youth, and believe it is mean-spirited and sends the wrong message.
The law is receiving much criticism from other state leaders, with the states of New York, Minnesota, Connecticut, Vermont and Washington, in addition to the 24 various cities across the county and the District of Columbia, banning all "non-essential" travel to North Carolina by state workers or publicly funded transportation systems.
Four film and television production companies, as well as multiple actors, have also publicly announced they will no longer film in North Carolina, in addition to a slew of musicians who canceled upcoming concerts scheduled to be held in the state. The NBA, NCAA and ESPN's X Games have also stated they will reconsider hosting sporting events in the state.
PayPal, among other major corporations, announced in April it had changed plans to build a $3.6 million global operations center, which had been expected to provide the state with nearly 400 jobs. One of the largest Internet payment companies in the world, PayPal received much backlash following its announcement, with critics noting its hypocrisy for boycotting North Carolina yet continuing to operate out of multiple countries where homosexuals and transgender individuals can be imprisoned or even put to death.
Despite the pushback from all sides, Gov. McCrory and various other government officials are maintaining their commitment to the bill and have sharply criticized what they assert is an abuse of federal power. "This is no longer just a North Carolina issue, because this conclusion by the Department of Justice impacts every state," McCrory stated. The move, he maintained, represents "something we've never seen regarding Washington overreach in my lifetime."
House Speaker Tim Moore claimed the threat was simply an effort by the Obama administration to "continue its radical left agenda," with state Senate leader Phil Berger describing the action as "a gross overreach by the Obama Justice Department that deserves to be struck down in federal court."
In April, following PayPal's decision to pull out of North Carolina, state lieutenant governor Dan Forest issued the following statement:
If our action in keeping men out of women's bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, then it was worth it. North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless. If a corporation wanting to do business in North Carolina does not see the worth of our children in the same light, then I wish them well as they do business somewhere else.
The Catholic Church has clearly maintained its position against the push for gender identity rights, with Pope Benedict XVI declaring in 2012, "The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious."