Grab Your Lawyer, It's Raining Lawsuits in North Carolina Over HB2

Bathroom signThe State of North Carolina is facing a federal lawsuit over a state law, known as HB2, which the U.S. Department of Justice claims is a violation of federal civil rights statutes. 

This controversial state law bans transgender people from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. HB2 defines “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is  stated on a person's birth certificate.” It requires local boards of education to “require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility that is designated for student use to be designated for and used only by students based on their biological sex.”

Multiple Lawsuits in the Works

The Justice Department is seeking declaratory relief, threatening to cut off federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina if the law is not repealed. The University of North Carolina, the state’s public education system, is at risk to lose federal student aid and funding worth $2 billion.

UNC’s president, Margaret Spellings, issued a response, stating that they “believe that the university has at all times acted in compliance with federal law, and the university intends to continue to comply in the future,” and imploring the DOJ to recognize that it has been placed in a difficult position with the state and federal laws in conflict. Spellings has since announced that she is seeking lawyers to defend against the federal lawsuit, noting that the university system cannot operate without federal funding.

A group of students from UNC have also joined the fight, filing their own lawsuit alleging that the federal government is forcing them to choose between their education and their personal privacy.

Public Reaction to HB2

In response to HB2’s passage, several entertainers have cancelled their scheduled performances in North Carolina in solidarity with its protestors. Bruce Springsteen, Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, Pearl Jam and Ringo Starr are among the performers who have cancelled their North Carolina shows. Jimmy Buffet kept his scheduled concert dates last week, but said that his playing future shows in North Carolina “would definitely depend on whether that stupid law is repealed.” These cancellations have resulted in nearly $200,000 in lost ticket sales.

Notifying its fans of the cancellation of a Raleigh, North Carolina show, Pearl Jam wrote, “The HB2 law that was recently passed is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens. The practical implications are expansive and its negative impact upon basic human rights is profound. We want America to be a place where no one can be turned away from a business because of who they love or fired from their job for who they are. It is for this reason that we must take a stand against prejudice, along with other artists and businesses, and join those in North Carolina who are working to oppose HB2 and repair what is currently unacceptable.”

Deutsche Bank and PayPal have also announced that they are pulling out of their plans to expand their companies into North Carolina, at a loss of 650 state jobs. 

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