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"Anti-Transgender Bill" Will Come at a Cost to Taxpayers, Say Opponents

A new law will prevent local municipalities from passing legislation to enable transgender people to use public bathrooms assigned to the gender they identify with. Legal challenges are expected to follow. (Shelly/Flickr)
A new law will prevent local municipalities from passing legislation to enable transgender people to use public bathrooms assigned to the gender they identify with. Legal challenges are expected to follow. (Shelly/Flickr)
March 25, 2016

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - While it often takes months to advance new bills through the North Carolina State Assembly, Gov. Pat McCrory has signed legislation lawmakers pushed through this week with sweeping speed.

The State Assembly passed legislation, House Bill 2, that blocks cities from allowing transgender people from using public bathrooms for the sex they identify as, as well as restricting cities from passing broader nondiscrimination laws.

Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director for the Campaign for Southern Equality, predicts the law will end up costing more than just people's rights.

"As with Amendment One, we saw the state had to expend significant resources to defend an unconstitutional law in court," she says. "Lawyers are exploring whether legal action would be appropriate regarding HB2."

North Carolina has spent more than $100,000 defending Amendment One, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. That was ultimately nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court's action regarding same-sex marriage.

After signing this week's legislation, Gov. McCrory tweeted that laws allowing people who are transgender to use public facilities assigned to their identified gender, "defied common sense ... that's why I signed the bipartisan bill to stop it."

In addition to its impact on the LGBT community, HB2 also eliminates a production under state law for employees who are fired because of their race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or disability.

Beach-Ferrara believes passing legislation that, in her view, will ultimately be defeated in the court system is counterproductive, and not what lawmakers were elected to do.

"What we see here is a systemic pattern of a group of legislators pushing through laws that are based on one thing and one thing only and that's animus," she says. "This is not what our elected officials have been elected to do. Their job is not to cynically use the instruments of government to target people."

According to the Campaign for Southern Equality, there are currently 90 anti-LGBT bills at some stage of consideration in Southern states.

This week, Tennessee lawmakers took a bill that would restrict transgender students' access to bathrooms out of committee so it will not advance to a vote.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC