RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina’s attorney general said Tuesday he won’t defend in court a new state law preventing local governments from approving protections for LGBT people, calling it discriminatory and a “national embarrassment.”
Democrat Roy Cooper made the announcement a day after gay rights advocates sued to overturn the law approved last week and signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
The law requires people to use multistall bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates at state agencies, schools and universities, even if that means forcing transgender people with heavy beards to use women’s rooms and putting people with feminine appearances in men’s rooms.
The law also makes clear local measures can’t protect people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, or require businesses to provide higher minimum wages or paid sick leave. And it blocks workers from suing in state courts over workplace discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap, directing complaints instead to a state commission.
“Not only is this new law a national embarrassment, it will set North Carolina’s economy back if we don’t repeal it,” Cooper said. “We know that businesses here and all over the country have taken a strong stance in opposition to this law.”
The federal lawsuit lists Cooper among the defendants because of his official position as the state’s top lawyer. But he has said he wants it repealed.
The governor is also a defendant in the lawsuit and has defended his decision to sign the law.
The Republican-led legislature and McCrory approved the law because they say the city of Charlotte went too far with a local ordinance allowing transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity. They say sexual predators could use these kinds of rules as a pretense to enter women’s bathrooms and locker rooms. Gay rights groups have called these and other arguments bogus.