Obama admin sues North Carolina over 'bathroom law'

A bitter dispute over transgender rights between the Obama Administration and the North Carolina state government has taken an ugly turn with both sueing each other in a federal court after feuding over the so-called "bathroom" law.

PTI| Updated: May 10, 2016, 13:22 PM IST

Washington: A bitter dispute over transgender rights between the Obama Administration and the North Carolina state government has taken an ugly turn with both sueing each other in a federal court after feuding over the so-called "bathroom" law.

US Attorney General Loretta E Lynch announced the lawsuit yesterday, which argues that North Carolina's so-called "bathroom law" violates parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws, and that the state is engaging in a "pattern or practice of sex discrimination."

The law passed on March 23 requires transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth instead of the gender with which they identify.

The Obama Administration has described this as a state-sponsored discrimination.

"This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them indeed, to protect all of us," Lynch told reporters.

"And it's about the founding ideals that have led this country haltingly but inexorably in the direction of fairness, inclusion and equality for all Americans," she said as she was joined by Indian-American Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

The Bathroom Bill, translates into discrimination in the real world, alleged Gupta after the federal law suit was filed against North Carolina.

The bill is "inconsistent with the values of fairness and equality and justice that we hold dear in this country," the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

"I think it should be evident from the response from the business community that what the North Carolina government has done is inconsistent with the best interests of the people and the economy of North Carolina," he said.

Since the Supreme Court last year upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry, state legislatures have taken up various bills to address the extent of rights enjoyed lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) communities.

More than 200 businesses have urged the State Government to change the law. Earlier in the day, North Carolina filed a law suit against the federal government.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory alleged that the federal government is "being a bully ...Trying to define gender identity, and there is no clear identification or definition of gender identity."

This is not just a North Carolina issue, this is now a national issue, he said.

"We believe a court rather than a federal agency should tell our state, our nation and employers across the country what the law requires," he said.

It even found its way into the presidential race. The Republican presidential presumptive nominee Donald Trump has said he thinks the law is not necessary, but leaves it to the State Government to take a final call on it.