Rallies, Legal Moves Heat Up Over N.C. LGBT Law

     RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The battle over North Carolina’s new law limiting protections for LGBT people took on several fronts Monday as a civil rights group asked a judge to stop the state from enforcing the law and like-minded opponents prepared for a rally at the state capitol.
     The demonstration is the latest attempt to get North Carolina’s General Assembly to consider a repeal of the wide-ranging law, which also prohibits cities from passing their own minimum wage increases and limits how people can sue for discrimination of all types in state courts.
     The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will gather between the Legislative Building and the old Capitol building where Gov. Pat McCrory has his office. The Republican governor has supported the law along with the GOP-controlled Legislature.
     A similar rally three weeks ago at the opening of the General Assembly’s session ended with the arrests of more than 50 people inside the Legislative Building. Authorities say those arrested refused to leave the building or Speaker Tim Moore’s office in protest.
     While the provision of the new law requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms aligned with their biological sex has gotten the most attention, several social justice organizations said the other parts of the law are more dangerous for the state in the long run.
     The fate of the new law may be decided in the courts.
     The American Civil Liberties Union filed court papers Monday asking a judge to stop the state from enforcing the law while several lawsuits are making their way through courts.
     McCrory sued the U.S. Justice Department last week, arguing that the state law is a “commonsense privacy policy” and that the Justice Department’s position is “baseless and blatant overreach.”
     The federal government responded with its own lawsuit, saying the law amounts to “state-sponsored discrimination” and is aimed at “a problem that doesn’t exist.”
     The Justice Department is also seeking its own court order declaring the law discriminatory and unenforceable.
     In Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who opposed a transgender bathroom bill there, spoke out against a directive by President Barack Obama’s administration that public schools must allow students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.
     Haslam said in a statement Monday that he disagrees with what he called a “heavy-handed approach.” The governor said such sensitive issues should be handled by local school boards — and not by the state or the federal government.
     The Tennessee bill seeking to require students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates was withdrawn before the end of the legislative session last month to allow legal challenges to play out in other states that have passed similar measures.
     Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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