McCrory and Lynch swap lawsuits on Monday, HB2 battlegrounds take shape



Attorney General Loretta Lynch answered Gov. Pat McCrory's lawsuit against the Department of Justice with her own lawsuit filed against the state of North Carolina and others involved with the implementation of House Bill 2 this afternoon. 

Last week, the DOJ sent a letter to McCrory and other state officials stating that HB2 was in direct violation of Title XII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She called for McCrory to announce a "remedy" by today, to which he replied by filing suit against the DOJ this morning, calling the department's letter "blatant and baseless overreach." 

Lynch replied with a lawsuit of her own — filed against the state of North Carolina, McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina — that calls for a court order declaring HB2 as "impermissibly discriminatory," Lynch said, as well as a statewide barring of its enforcement. 

As many media members have taken to calling HB2 "the bathroom bill," Lynch addressed the fact that it has far further-reaching implications than the use of restrooms. The bill took away employees' right to sue for workplace discrimination in state court and stripped municipalities of the right to pass laws regarding non-discrimination and minimum wage within their jurisdiction. 

"This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms," Lynch said. "This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us. And it’s about the founding ideals that have led this country – haltingly but inexorably – in the direction of fairness, inclusion and equality for all Americans." 

Although transgender people aren't the only ones affected by this law, they have been at the forefront of the debate, and Lynch recognized that, as well. 

"Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you, we stand with you and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward," Lynch said. "Please know that history is on your side. This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy, but we’ll get there together." 

Creative Loafing reached out to members of the Charlotte trans community for their reactions to Lynch's speech. Che Busiek, a trans man and founder of Transcend Charlotte, a service and support group for transgender people in the area, said he got emotional while watching Lynch on television. 

"I was in tears," Busiek said. "To have my government say that they affirm me was groundbreaking. My parents don't even do that." 

Lara Americo, a trans woman and Creative Loafing contributor, was in the CL offices just after listening to Lynch's address on the radio. She had watched the speech live originally, but on a television in a restaurant without volume. She said she felt relieved when she was finally able to hear Lynch's words. 

"The North Carolina government has created sanctioned discrimination and it's really good that on a federal level it's recognized that it is discrimination and it shouldn't be law," Americo said. 

Creative Loafing will be sticking with this story as it progresses, but it's safe to say after the events of Monday that neither side will be backing down soon. 

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