Hunter Schafer (left) and Miquel Rodrigues of Raleigh protest the North Carolina General Assembly during a special session on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. (Photo by James Willamor)
Two civil rights organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and Lambda Legal, announced today that they are expanding their lawsuit that once challenged the infamous House Bill 2 to include House Bill 142, the law that replaced HB2.
In a press release, the ACLU called the repeal of HB2 "fake" and pointed out that HB142 is equally discriminatory in its restrictions to cities and towns that would like to pass anti-discrimination laws allowing transgender people to use the restrooms of the gender they identify with.
Charlotte City Council repealed the transgender-inclusive amendments to its nondiscrimination ordinance in order to have HB2 repealed, and HB142 restricts the city or any other municipality in North Carolina from passing similar ordinances until 2020, at the earliest.
“After publicly vilifying transgender people for more than a year, legislators can’t just abandon transgender people to fend for themselves in the toxic environment of fear and animosity that the legislature itself created," Tara Borelli, counsel with Lambda Legal, said in the release. "HB142 doubles down on many of the worst harms of HB2 and leaves transgender people in a legal limbo where they remain uniquely vulnerable to discrimination. Transgender people face an impossible situation where no door leads to safety. Anyone would find that intolerable.”
The advocacy groups also added two new plaintiffs to its suit: Madeline "Maddy" Goss, a transgender woman from Raleigh who teaches Tae Kwon Do and lobbies the state legislature in her free time; and Quinton Harper, a community organizer from Carrboro who has been a longtime advocate for people living with HIV.
“I don’t have the option to use the men’s restroom, and I don’t have the luxury to not think about my safety every time I use the women’s restroom,” said Goss. “I know all too well what can happen to a transgender person in the restroom because a stranger won’t just let you be. It’s even scarier now that there is so much confusion about which restrooms I can use and I worry that I am not safe to use any restroom in North Carolina because of this discrimination.”
Goss and Harper join four other plaintiffs in Carcaño v. McCrory, now known as Carcaño v. Cooper, which is now more than a year old.
“LGBT North Carolinians deserve to feel secure in knowing that when they go about their daily lives and interact with businesses open to the public, any discrimination they encounter is illegal, but HB142 robs of them of that security,” said Chris Brook, legal director with ACLU of North Carolina, in the release. “This law continues to invite discrimination against LGBT people, particularly transgender people, and sends a daily message that LGBT people across the state are not worthy of equal dignity and respect.”