N.C. Dems Respond to |GOP With Anti-Bias Act

     (CN) – Four North Carolina Democrats filed a bill in the state house on Tuesday intended to reverse a GOP-backed law that denies anti-discrimination protections to members of the LGBT community.
     The proposal put forward by the four North Carolina House members is a wide-ranging response to House Bill 2, the highly controversial “Bathroom Bill” rushed through the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in March.
     The backers of HB2 wanted to pre-empt an impending Charlotte ordinance that would have provided broad protections against discrimination in the state’s largest city, and also would have allowed transgender people to use public restrooms aligned with their gender identity.
     
The law also prohibits counties, cities and other local municipalities from extending protections related to sexual orientation at hotels, restaurants and other businesses.It also requires university and other public school students to use only those bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates.
     Now Democrats Chris Sgro, Pricey Harrison, Susan Fisher and Kelly Alexander want their colleagues to take up House Bill 1078, or The Equality for All Act, which aims to “protect all North Carolinians against discrimination in all walks of life.”
     Where former laws mostly protected citizens from unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicapped condition and familial status, The Equality for All Act extends a person’s protected status to include sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information and veteran status.
     The Act sets to amend General Statutes regarding housing, employment, lending, education and unsurprisingly — public bathrooms and changing facilities.
     It calls on the North Carolina Human Relations Commission to administer these new provisions as soon as the bill can become a law, but the proposed legislation seems unlikely to gain enough Republican interest to pass.
     Still, House Bill 1078 comes at a time when all eyes are on the Tarheel State and its LGBT issues.
     On Monday the U.S. Justice Department sued North Carolina over HB2, asking a federal court to declare the law’s provisions “discriminate on the basis of sex.”
     
The DOJ lawsuit says the law has caused transgender people to suffer “emotional harm, mental anguish, distress, humiliation, and indignity.”
     “We have always known, and come to understand even more urgently during the HB2 debate, the incredible need for non-discrimination protections for LGBT and other North Carolinians,” said Rep. Sgro, who also serves as executive director of Equality N.C., the state’s largest organization dedicated to LGBT rights.
     “This bill, along with the repeal of HB2, is the important next step that this General Assembly, and Governor McCrory must take in order to make North Carolina a true state of equality and help heal our national reputation.”

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