Dismissing DOJ Warnings, North Carolina Doubles Down on Anti-LGBTQ 'Hate Bill'
State and local governments risk losing out on more than $4.8 billion in funds annually if the federal government follows through on sanctions
North Carolina officials have dismissed warnings from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that the state's anti-LGBTQ legislation violates civil rights, making clear that Governor Pat McCrory has no intention of repealing the law by the DOJ's deadline of May 9—despite the threat of federal sanctions.
"We will take no action by Monday," Tim Moore, speaker of the State House of Representatives, said Thursday during a press conference. "That deadline will come and go. We don’t ever want to lose any money, but we’re not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday’s date."
The Obama administration has said that it is willing to withhold federal education funding from North Carolina if McCrory does not confirm he will not implement the law, known as House Bill 2 (HB2), which requires transgender people use bathrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that correspond to their biological sex, rather than their gender identity.
This week, the U.S. Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said they were reviewing whether the law also violates their non-discrimination provisions for federally assisted projects.
According to a report (pdf) released this week by the Williams Institute, a sexual orientation and gender identity research organization at the UCLA School of Law, that means state and local governments risk losing out on more than $4.8 billion in funds annually.
"Loss of federal funding under the laws could impact schools, workforce development programs, law enforcement, health care programs, housing assistance, and programs for survivors of violence," the organization's senior counsel Christy Mallory and executive director Brad Spears wrote in a blog post accompanying the report.
LGBTQ advocacy groups Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign on Friday sent a letter (pdf) to the chancellors and presidents of the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Community College systems urging them to reverse the law's implementation.
"Tens of thousands of students, faculty, and college employees across North Carolina have been harmed by HB2," said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. "The Department of Justice has now affirmed HB2 violates the civil rights of those in the UNC community, and we therefore urge all public universities and colleges to reverse its implementation. This is not only the right thing to do, it is the law."
John Dinan, professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University, told the Charlotte News & Observer on Thursday that "it's almost unprecedented for federal funds to be cut off."
However, as Mallory stated in a separate press release Wednesday, "The non-discrimination requirements in these federal laws protect transgender people from discrimination, including by allowing them to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender identity. Federal agencies that enforce those laws are authorized to suspend or terminate funds if recipients violate the non-discrimination requirements."