McCrory responds to Justice Department claim that HB2 violates federal civil rights laws

McCrory responds to Justice Department claim that HB2 violates federal civil rights laws

RALEIGH, NC (AP) - Governor Pat McCrory is responding to the claims by the U.S. Justice Department that North Carolina's new law called HB2 discriminates against LGBT people and violates federal civil rights laws.

"A claim by the Obama administration charges that one part of House Bill 2, which requires state employees in public government buildings and students in our universities to use a restroom, locker room and shower facility that match their biological sex, is now in violation of federal law," McCrory said about the letter received  on Wednesday. "The Obama administration has not only staked out its position for North Carolina, but for all states, universities and most employers in the U.S.  The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy. We will be reviewing to determine the next steps."

The letter from Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, put Gov. McCrory on notice that that state officials must confirm by Monday that they will not comply with or implement the law called House Bill 2.
A letter from the Justice Department obtained by The Associated Press said the law violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in education based on sex. That could lead to North Carolina losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal school funding.

Margaret Spellings, president of the UNC School System, said they will be conferring with the Governor's Office, legislative leaders, and counsel about possible next steps and will respond to the Justice Department by Monday's deadline.

"The letters received today serve to give notice that President Obama intends to sue the State of North Carolina unless we yield to his views," Speaker of the House Tim Moore said in a statement. "[His] interpretation of Title VII and Title IX would radically change all universally accepted protections of privacy and safety that are based on the anatomical differences between the sexes."

Governor Pat McCrory signed HB2 into law on March 23 after it passed both the NC House and Senate during a one-day special session. The law's primary aim was to overturn portions of a non-discrimination ordinance passed in Charlotte in February.

McCrory signed an executive order less than three weeks later walking back portions of HB2 in response to intense backlash over the law.

Critics of HB2 applauded the Justice Department's action.

Rep. Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover County, released the following statement:

It is what we expected and discussed with the majority party during the short debate on this bill. Now, not only have we lost thousands of jobs in NC because of the republican's overreach, we may lose as much as $1 billion in federal funding for public education.

Hamilton was among four legislators who filed a bill last month to fully repeal HB2.

Attorney General Roy Cooper offered the following statement in response to the Justice Department's letter:

"Enough is enough. It's time for the Governor to put our schools and economy first and work to repeal this devastating law."

The ACLU, who is challenging HB2 in federal court, said, "Governor McCrory and the legislators who forced through HB 2 in a single day were warned about these dire consequences, but they ignored the law and the North Carolinians it would harm and passed the bill anyway. The only way to reverse the ongoing damage HB 2 is causing to North Carolina's people, economy, and reputation is a full repeal."

To read the letter, click here.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. WECT contributed to this report.