Groups Suing Over HB2 Asking for Expansion of Friday’s Preliminary Injuntion

The LGBT rights groups suing the state of North Carolina are asking for broader relief than what was issued in a district court ruling on Friday regarding the state’s controversial House Bill 2.

The law, which was passed in a whirlwind special session in March, has been criticized by advocacy groups as the worst piece of anti-LGBT legislation in the nation.

A district judge issued a preliminary injunction on Friday, but that ruling does not go far enough in the mind of the groups bringing the suit, according to a release sent out on Monday.

Friday’s injunction barred the University of North Carolina System from enforcing the provision of HB2 that forces transgender individuals to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificate rather than their gender identity in government-owned buildings – including schools and the university campuses. The UNC System had already said it was not going to enforce HB2, maintaining that it was caught between state and federal law.

But the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Chris Brook said on Monday there are many others impacted by HB2 that were not protected by Friday’s ruling.

“We are thrilled that H.B. 2 is starting to crumble and relieved for our clients who have had a huge burden lifted as a result of the court’s Friday ruling,” Brook said in a release. “But we know the harmful effects of H.B. 2 are far reaching, and that is why we are seeking broader relief for the thousands of transgender people who call North Carolina home.”

Lamba Legal senior attorney Tara Borelli said that the groups would keep fighting for the full repeal of HB2.

“Though the district court importantly recognized the serious harm to three of our clients as a result of H.B. 2, that recognition unfortunately didn’t extend to a ruling rectifying those harms for other transgender individuals in North Carolina,” Borelli said. “We are optimistic that H.B. 2’s days are numbered and are appealing Friday’s ruling in order to bring relief to all those who live in or visit North Carolina.”

The bathroom portions of the law have garnered the most attention, but the law has also been criticized for barring localities from implementing nondiscrimination guidelines that go beyond the state policy. The law also bans government bodies from increasing the minimum wage locally.

The appeal filed on Monday was seeking “broader relief for all transgender people in North Carolina before the case heads to a full trial.” That trial is set for the Monday following Election Day this November.

ACLU Responds to UNC System Memo Regarding HB2

The plaintiffs challenging North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2 issued a statement saying they were “disappointed” in the leadership from the University of North Carolina after a memo was sent to the system Chancellors from new President Margaret Spellings.

Spellings wrote in the memo that the legislation, which requires transgender individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds with their birth certificate rather than their gender identity, “supersedes nondiscrimination regulations imposed upon employers and public accommodations by political subdivisions of the state.”

While Spellings wrote that “The Act does not limit the ability of local government and universities to adopt policies with respect to their own employees,” she acknowledged that the 17 system campuses “must require every multiple-occupancy bathroom and changing facility to be designated for and used only by persons based on their biological sex.”

Spellings did encourage campuses to “Consider assembling and making information available about the locations of designated single-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities on campus.” These single-occupancy facilities can be used by anyone under the new law.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal and Equality NC have all filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the law.

The groups released a joint statement on Thursday saying, “It’s incredibly disappointing that the University of North Carolina has concluded it is required to follow this discriminatory measure at the expense of the privacy, safety, and wellbeing of its students and employees, particularly those who are transgender.”

The groups say that House Bill 2 is in violation of federal of puts the state of North Carolina at risk of losing billions of dollars in Title IX funding.

Joaquín Carcaño is a 27-year-old transgender man who is an employee of UNC – Chapel Hill and the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging HB2. He said in the statement:

“Not only does this policy fail to protect my rights as a loyal and hard-working employee and make it harder for me to do my job, it sides with ignorance and fear. All I want is to use the appropriate restroom, in peace, just like everyone else. But now I am put in the terrible position of either going into the women’s room where I don’t belong and am uncomfortable or breaking the law.”

The lawsuit is asking for the federal court to immediately block the law while the case proceeds. There is no timetable for that decision to be handed down by the court. Once it is, the case will turn to looking into the constitutionality of the law.

Civil Rights Groups File Lawsuit Against House Bill 2

Advocates have been speaking out against House Bill 2, and now that bill will be challenged in court. The American Civil Liberties Union in North Carolina, Lambda Legal and Equality NC held a press conference Monday announcing a federal lawsuit challenging House Bill 2, which rolls back protections for the LGBT community.

Chris Brook is the legal director for the ACLU in North Carolina.

“Let’s be clear, the legislature and Governor McCrory have done nothing less than encourage discrimination against thousands of LGBT people who call North Carolina home and countless others who may travel here. They have particularly targeted transgender North Carolinians with ugly and baseless vitriol that seeks to harm and marginalize an already venerable community,” said Brook.

House Bill 2 was signed into law last Wednesday by Governor Pat McCrory after being introduced only 12 hours earlier in a special legislative session.

Facts And Myths (That McCrory Forgot) About House Bill 2

Three members of the LGBT community as well as the ACLU and Equality NC are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The defendants are listed as Governor Pat McCrory, Attorney General Roy Copper, the UNC System and UNC Board of Governors, including Louis Bissette, chairman of the board.

The lawsuit claims that the bill violates equal protection, privacy and liberty guaranteed under the 14th amendment and Title IX, which prohibits discriminating against students on the basis of sex. Brook said that could put the UNC System at risk of losing federal funds.

As Attorney General, Roy Cooper is charged with defending the state in any legal litigation but he has already denounced the bill saying it harms North Carolina families and the economy. Roy Cooper is the democratic nominee for Governor, challenging incumbent Governor McCrory.

Simone Bell is a member of Lambda Legal, an organization that works to promote LBGT rights and is proving council in the lawsuit.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder to say we are not going to have this, so we are going to take you to court. And we found people who believe so much in decency, and not just equality, but justice, who are willing to put their lives on the line for our communities,” said Bell.

Joaquìn Carcaño is the lead plaintiff in the case. Carcaño works at UNC and is a transgender man but is listed as a female on this birth certificate. Under the new law he would be required to use the female restroom at work.

“Yes I am a transgender man but I am a man. My family, my friends, my co-workers and many more in this state affirm my male identity, that is not something that can be stripped away by a bill such as this,” said Carcaño.

Pat McCrory released a statement Friday, attempting to dispel “myths” surrounding House Bill 2. Proponents of the bill have called it “common sense legislation” and a public safety issue.

But Carcaño sees it as an issue of values.

“It is so much more than a restroom. It’s about dignity, it’s about respect. It’s about valuing us as a broader part of the North Carolina community. North Carolina is better than this,” said Carcaño.

The case, Carcaño v. McCrory will be argued in the federal court for the middle district of North Carolina.

The Carrboro Board of Alderman unanimously passed a resolution on Saturday calling for the General Assembly to repeal the bill.

ACLU To Challenge NC’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Same-sex marriage advocates in North Carolina say they will ask a federal judge to quickly strike down the state’s ban following the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear appeals of the issue.

American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina legal director Chris Brook said the group will file a request Monday seeking an immediate ruling from Chief U.S. District Judge William L. Osteen, Jr., in Greensboro overturning the state’s ban as unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it would not review rulings overturning marriage bans in five states, including Virginia.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond in July struck down Virginia’s ban. That court has jurisdiction over North Carolina and state Attorney General Roy Cooper has said the ruling is binding here.

ACLU To Challenge NC Gay Marriage Ban

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DURHAM – Six same-sex North Carolina couples are speaking out not only against the state’s ban on gay marriage, but also on the rights for their children.  According to a WRAL report, the American Civil Liberties Union says it will amend a federal law suit filed last year on behalf of those six couples where one partner wanted to adopt the other’s child.

The ACLU says it plans to launch a challenge to North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, a ban solidified by an amendment to the state constitution that passed last year that prohibits the legal recognition of unions between same-sex couples.

The ACLU argues that marriage would provide same-sex couples a number of benefits for their children, including health insurance coverage if one parent lacks it, the permission of either parent to make medical decisions or to be by a child’s bedside if hospitalized, and the prevention from children being torn away from their home if something should happen to the biologically or legally recognized parent.

One of the couples in the 2012 lawsuit, Marcie and Chantelle Fisher-Borne, were legally married in Washington, D.C. in 2011 and currently live in Durham.  The couple has two children, a five-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy, each carried by one of the two women.  When their daughter was born, the couple met resistance from a hospital staff member who demanded their legal paperwork—the ACLU argues that encounters like this could be avoided if they were legally married in NC.

WCHL spoke with Chantelle to hear about how NC’s ban affects her family as well as other North Carolina families.

“Having marriage rights for same-sex couples is the best way to provide the safety net for our families, those of us who have kids,” she says.

Chantelle says having the original adoption rights case expand to include the ban on same-sex marriage is an important step, especially given the recent decision of the Supreme Court to declare DOMA unconstitutional.

“(With) lots of changes happening around the conversation of marriage rights, it was the perfect opportunity considering the changes in the laws,” Chantelle says.

And ultimately, Chantelle says she wants the same rights as any other parent who gave birth and raised a child.

“It directly affects any same-sex couple in North Carolina and many states across the US.  Being a legal stranger to your kid who you’ve raised since they were born is disconcerting to say the least, and something we want to change,” says Chantelle.

The Luxury of Disagreement

I have written derisively of using town dollars to defend a hands-free cell phone ban (when the town was even on notice it wouldn’t hold up in court).  The notion that it can be handled by attorneys already paid by the town made no difference to me because their salaries are still town dollars (tax $ = my $) and I have to believe there are other important issues awaiting legal attention on my dime.  

Well, it seems we may just be approaching one of those.  And it’s just a small thing… I can’t remember what it’s called.  What a minute…. something free…. no… “Free something…….  I’ve got it:  Free Speech.  

It’s quite likely you’re reading this thinking that’s a great use of tax dollars:  defending free speech.  Well, you may be disappointed to find out Chapel Hill is on the receiving end of a reminder about First Amendment rights.  The reminder comes from the American Civil Liberties Union and is about some controversial bus advertisements.

The ads were about U.S. military aid to Israel. As a recovering journalist, I can tell you there are two topics in the U.S. that if you cover them in any way, every single person reading/listening/watching will assume you’re biased.  One of them is Israel.*  And that assumption of bias occurs when you’ve tried to be as absolutely evenhanded as possible.  In the case of the bus ads, there is a definite point of view.  The sponsoring church wants to end U.S. military aid to Israel.  So, a lightning rod subject with a definite point of view on the far end of one of the many spectrums in this multi-layered debate.  No question, these ads were going to stir up a reaction.

The ads came down due to a technicality in the small print.  If that sounds redundant, this is one of the few times I’ll defend my writing:  It was a technical requirement that certain information be printed on the ad (all ads) that wasn’t included on these.  

Despite the respite for the town in having a real reason to duck the controversy, it rages on.  

While passionate people are debating the importance of Israel and the U.S. role in the region, I feel I’m watching a magician impeccably trained in the art of misdirection. There is plenty to debate about all aspects of the U.S. and every corner of the Middle East but it is our right to do so that is really in question here.  

The right to express an opinion is why we’re all (I hope) voting in a few weeks and savoring the ability to do so.  The right to disagree with an ad on a bus?  That’s an absolute luxury folks, and one we should be embracing, not curtailing. 

Disagree with me?  Celebrate your right to do so by leaving a comment below, and remember, courtesy and civility are adequate vehicles for all opinions- even very strong ones!  Prefer to address me directly?  Write to me at

*The other, I’m sure you’ve guessed, is abortion.