Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina said yesterday that transgender people will be able to use public facilities that correspond to their gender identity under a proposal to settle the lawsuit initiated to challenge North Carolina's notorious HB2.
Challengers had continued their lawsuit after legislators passed and the Democratic governor signed a law this spring replacing HB2, the law commonly known as the “bathroom bill.”
Challengers are willing to drop the suit if a federal judge signs off on the proposed order that they submitted Wednesday along with Cooper, his Cabinet secretaries and state Attorney General Josh Stein and which applies to bathrooms in those officials’ agencies.
The proposed order
says that under House Bill 142, “with respect to public facilities that are subject to Executive Branch Defendants’ control or supervision, transgender people are not prevented from the use of public facilities in accordance with their gender identity.”
For too many reasons, it is not in our state’s best interest to remain in drawn-out court battles that still linger because of HB2. As a state, we need to work together to make North Carolina more welcoming, and I am pleased that we could come together with the other party in this case to show that we agree.
Cooper also issued an executive order to prohibit employment discrimination in his administration on the basis of race, gender, National Guard or veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity and extended that order to state contractors.
UNC is not party to the settlement agreement.
Chris Brook, an attorney with the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, said on Wednesday, that attorneys for the challengers reached out to UNC officials and state Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. Tim Moore, the legislative leaders who intervened in the case, asking them to take part in the settlement negotiations.
They did not join in these efforts. We, of course, were disappointed they declined to join in a consent decree which simply seeks to protect all North Carolinians, including transgender North Carolinians, from discrimination.
Gov. Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein and the ACLU propose a court ‘settlement’ that would guarantee access to opposite-sex restrooms, showers and changing facilities, statewide. They have joined together to ask for a ‘consent decree’ from the federal court that would prohibit officials ‘to ... block, deter or impede’ anyone from using any ‘public facilities’ ‘in accordance with ... gender identity.’ It is the epitome of a collusive settlement. And an attack on the rule of law worthy of ... well, I won't say who.
--Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), HB2 sponsor
H.B. 2 and H.B. 142 remain shameful and discriminatory attacks on LGBT people that should never have been signed into law, but under this proposed consent decree North Carolina would finally affirm the right of transgender people to use facilities that match their gender. The work of fully protecting LGBT people from discrimination across North Carolina is far from over, however, and we will continue fighting to advance equality and hold all North Carolina officials accountable.
--Karen Anderson, ACLU of North Carolina
The state-sanctioned discrimination of H.B. 2 and H.B. 142 and the hollow attempts by North Carolina’s public officials to find a solution opened a deep wound that continues to bleed into the lives of LGBT North Carolinians, but the proposed consent decree can be the start of a healing process. We will continue to fight for full nondiscrimination protections for all LGBT North Carolinians.
--Simone Bell, Lambda Legal