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ACLU of North Carolina


JULY 23, 2019
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The State of North Carolina cannot use
H.B. 142, the law that replaced H.B. 2,  to prevent transgender
individuals from using public restrooms and other facilities in state
government buildings that match their gender under an agreement
approved today by a federal court.

U.S. Judge Thomas Schroeder signed a consent decree order that was
jointly submitted by Governor Roy Cooper and civil rights groups
representing LGBTQ North Carolinians in the three-year legal
challenge to North Carolina’s notorious 2016 anti-LGBTQ law, House
Bill 2, and the 2017 anti-LGBTQ law that replaced it, House Bill 142.
The North Carolina General Assembly, which intervened in the
lawsuit, opposed the consent decree.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal represent six
LGBTQ North Carolinians in the lawsuit.

“After so many years of managing the anxiety of H.B.2 and fighting

so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect
transgender people from being punished under these laws,” said
Joaquin Carcaño, the lead plaintiff in the case.  “This is a tremendous
victory but not a complete one. While I am glad that Governor Cooper
agreed to this settlement, it remains devastating to know that local
protections for LGBTQ people are still banned under state law while
so many members of our community continue to face violence,
harassment, and discrimination simply because of who we are. The
fight for full justice will continue.”

“We are thrilled to obtain some clarity and relief for transgender
North Carolinians who have been suffering under H.B. 2 and H.B. 142
for years. While this part of the court fight may be ending, so much
urgent work remains as long as people who are LGBTQ are denied
basic protections from violence and discrimination simply because of
who they are,” said Irena Como, Acting Legal Director of the ACLU of
North Carolina. “The shameful stain of House Bill 2 and the pain and
harm it caused to so many people will always be part of North
Carolina’s history. LGBTQ North Carolinians still lack comprehensive,
statewide nondiscrimination protections while on the job, patronizing
a business open to the public, or simply going about their daily lives.”

“Using facilities that match one’s gender identity is a basic necessity

for full participation in society, and this order’s confirmation that
transgender people can do so is an important victory.  Being able to
safely navigate everyday life when you set foot outside your home is
not a luxury.  It is a basic foundation for being treated and accepted
as co-equal members of society, like everyone else,” said Tara Borelli,
Lambda Legal Counsel.

The final consent decree is available here.



Passed in 2016, House Bill 2 removed local legal protections for

LGBTQ people, among others, and prohibited transgender people from
using public facilities matching their gender identity. The ACLU and
Lambda Legal challenged the law on behalf of LGBTQ North
Carolinians days after its passage.
Later that year, the court granted a preliminary injunction to stop the
University of North Carolina from enforcing the law against three
plaintiffs in the case who are transgender. The lawsuit was amended
to challenge H.B. 142 when the replacement law was passed in 2017.
Last year Judge Schroeder ruled that the replacement law does not
bar transgender people from using public restrooms and other
facilities that match their gender.  That law still prevents cities from
passing any prohibitions on discrimination in places of public
accommodation or by employers until December 2020.

The approved consent decree resolves the portion of the case

challenging the 2017 law that replaced H.B. 2.  It does not resolve the
portion of the case challenging the lawfulness of H.B. 2 for the period
when it was in effect, which has been stayed pending the Supreme
Court’s resolution of several employment discrimination cases
involving LGBT employees.