Attorney general: House Bill 2 'unconstitutional,' won't defend in court

(Source: WNCN)
(Source: WNCN)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Attorney General Roy Cooper spoke out on House Bill 2 in Raleigh Tuesday morning, calling the bill "unconstitutional."

The press conference came a day after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other gay-rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit, challenging the bill.

Cooper, who's challenging Gov. Pat McCrory to be North Carolina's next governor, spoke just after 11 a.m. at the North Carolina Attorney General's Office on W. Edenton Street.

"I believe it's critical for me as Attorney General to make sure that these policies and employees are defended," Cooper said.

McCrory signed a bill passed by the NC Senate last Wednesday, striking down the Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance. The ordinance, passed in February by a 7-4 vote from the Charlotte City Council, broadly defined how businesses must treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers. But as in other cities recently, the debate has focused on bathrooms.

The attorney general said his office has done its job for the past 15 years and continues to do its job today. "Discrimination is wrong, period. The governor and legislature should repeal this law," Cooper said. "I made a promise to my employees. We're doing the right thing here."

Legislative leaders responded to the lawsuit challenging House Bill 2 Monday.

"While they've accused the state of disrespecting local control, the irony is far-left groups like the national ACLU, their out-of-state lawyers and Attorney General Roy Cooper, want to use North Carolina as a pawn in their extreme agenda to force women and young girls to welcome grown men into their bathrooms and locker rooms nationwide," a joint statement from Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said.

"This lawsuit takes this debate out of the hands of voters and instead attempts to argue with a straight face that there is a previously undiscovered 'right' in the U.S. Constitution for men to use women's bathrooms and locker rooms," the statement continued. "But we are confident the court will find the General Assembly acted properly in accordance with existing state and federal law."

House Bill 2 is a "Measure that permits discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across the state," ACLU officials said in a press release Monday.

The pro-equality advocates spoke at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on S Harrington Street. Equality NC members feel that the community has taken a step backwards.

Monday afternoon, McCrory spoke out on the legislation. He feels North Carolina is being portrayed unfairly in the national spotlight.

"There's a very well-coordinated campaign, a national campaign, which is distorting the truth, which is smearing out state in an inaccurate way," McCrory said. "I'm proud of us protecting the privacy rights of individuals, and not putting burdensome regulations on business and letting them make the decision."

In addition to the provisions of the bill seeking to repeal the bathroom-related portions of Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance, the bill also addresses several workplace issues.

DOCUMENT: Click here to read the full bill

The new law limiting LGBT protections has already dissuaded some outside businesses and groups from planning events in Charlotte, the city's tourism authority told the Charlotte Observer.

Tuesday, NY Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order banning all non-essential travel to North Carolina.

RELATED ARTICLE: NY Governor Cuomo bans non-essential travel to NC

The ordinance, if it stood, would have taken place April 1.


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