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Obama accused of 'bullying' N.C. over bathroom law

President Obama (White House photo)

The Obama administration on Wednesday threatened North Carolina over the state’s newly adopted House Bill 2, which protects women and children from being exposed to men in restrooms and locker rooms, by alleging the law violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

But lawyers who are expert on the issue said enough is enough, and the feds should quit their bullying.

“North Carolina’s bathroom privacy law, HB2, fully complies with federal law,” said Kellie Fiedorek, a legal counsel for the powerhouse Alliance Defending Freedom, which specializes in civil and religious rights.

“It’s absurd to assert, as the Department of Justice does, that by placing the word ‘sex’ in federal nondiscrimination laws, Congress intended to force states to open their restrooms to people of the opposite biological sex,” Fiedorek continued. “Gov. McCrory and the state of North Carolina are fulfilling their duty to protect the privacy rights of their citizens.

“The DOJ should stop bullying North Carolina with falsehoods about what federal law requires,” the lawyer said.

The federal action had been announced earlier in the day.

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TPM reported the DOJ notified the governor about its interpretation of the 1964 law, claiming “both you and the state of North Carolina” are “engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against trangender state employees and both you, in your official capacity, and the state are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by transgender employees of public agencies.”

The DOJ claims the 1964 law provides “access to sex-segregated restrooms and other workplace facilities consistent with gender identity.”

Vanita Gupta, the assistant in the DOJ who prepared the letter, claimed, the state law “is facially discriminatory against transgender employees on the basis of sex because it treats transgender employees, whose gender identity does not match their ‘biological sex,’ as defined by HB2, differently from similiarly situated non-transgender employees.”

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Gupta threatened court action against the governor and state unless they confirm “no later than close of business on May 9, 2016” that the state’s “violations” will be remedied.

The state law was adopted and signed into law in March. It provides protection for women and children who may have a reasonable fear of being confronted by males in women’s restrooms and locker rooms.

The ADF reported it also had to file a lawsuit on Wednesday in a related case.

In that case in Palatine, Illinois, ADF is representing 51 families who sued the local district, Township High School District 211, for disregarding student privacy and safety when “it secretly opened its schools’ restrooms to the opposite sex and then opened the girls’ locker room to a boy after the U.S. Department of Education threatened the district’s federal funding.”

“The agency based its threat on its inaccurate interpretation of Title IX, a 1972 federal law that, contrary to the agency’s opinion, actually authorizes schools to retain single-sex restrooms and locker rooms,” the legal team explained.

The district now is forcing “14- to 17-year-old students to share restrooms and locker rooms with opposite-sex classmates. All the students must use the restroom with the knowledge that someone of the opposite sex is present or could walk in at any time.

“But it is even worse for the girls. The DOE and District 211 require them to use the locker room with a biologically male student. They must change their clothes for physical education class knowing a biologically male student is present or could walk in at any time.

“The fear over undressing in the same room as a male causes these girls signfiicant anxiety, stress, and embarrassment, and importantly, it violates their well-established right to privacy,” the ADF wrote.

The ADF explained that federal bureaucrats simply redefined “sex” in order to reach their conclusion.

But “the United States Constitution’s right to privacy prohibits the government (including schools) from forcing students to partially or fully undress, or use the restroom, in the presence of the opposite sex.”

Said the ADF, “If our government is powerful enough to command innocent school children to disrobe in the presence of opposite-sex classmates, then there will be little it will not be powerful enough to do.”

WND reported earlier on the state’s law, which Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said was adopted when the city of Charlotte forced the state to act.

“This isn’t something the General Assembly brought up. The city council in Charlotte brought this up, against legal counsel’s advice and against the advice of a lot of folks. They went beyond their constitutional authority and tried to create a public accommodation law in the city of Charlotte,” Forest told WND and Radio America.

He continued, “That is expressly a responsibility of the state. The city of Charlotte and municipalities don’t have the legal authority, based on our constitution, to establish public accommodation law.”

In addition to overstepping its legal authority, Forest said the Charlotte council pursued a very troubling policy.

“The Charlotte ordinance said that the business community had to to comply with this ordinance,” Forest explained. “They said it was sex discrimination to have men’s room and women’s room labels on your doors.”

When state officials started hearing from sexual assault victims, the effort to reverse the Charlotte ordinance picked up far more steam.

“We have had multiple calls from women who had been sexually abused in a bathroom in a facility like that, who were literally being traumatized by even the thought of that going into law in North Carolina,” Forest said. “We stepped up to address it because it was going to go into effect and become the law in Charlotte on April 1. That’s why we had to go into special session.”

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Conservative lawmakers and family organizations became even more alarmed after discovering that one of the leading advocates for the Charlotte ordinance at the time was a registered sex offender. At the time, Chad Sevearance-Turner was president of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The Charlotte Observer, citing a story in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, reported Sevearance-Turner was convicted by a jury for fondling a 15-year-old boy while he slept in 1998. Seaverance-Turner was serving as youth minister in Gaffney, South Carolina, at the time. The boy was a church member.

The actual text of the Charlotte ordinance only made things worse for concerned citizens. Forest said the language made bathrooms and changing areas open to virtually anyone.

“The giant loophole they created was that this ordinance would then allow any person to enter any bathroom at any time,” he said. “A man can enter a women’s bathroom, a women’s locker room, a shower facility. They could enter a girls’ bathroom, a girls’ locker room. A sexual predator could enter in there, somebody who is a pedophile could go into a girls’ or women’s bathroom.”

Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest:

He also confirmed the state law addressed the needs of the state’s transgender population. Once they have sex reassignment surgery and have their birth certificate sex reference changed, then they would be allowed to use the restrooms of their new sex.