- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

North Carolina’s attorney general said Tuesday he will not defend the state’s “bathroom bill” in court after several pro-gay groups filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation’s constitutionality.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat who is running for governor, said during a press conference that House Bill 2 discriminates against transgender people.

“Over the last 15 years, our office has defended the state, its officials and agencies when they’ve been sued,” Mr. Cooper said. “Our office will continue to do that, except it will not defend the constitutionality of the discrimination in House Bill 2.

“Discrimination is wrong, period,” he continued. “The governor and the legislature should repeal this law.”

The law, which was signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory last week, requires that people use the public restrooms and showers of their biological sex, not their preferred gender identification, revoking a Charlotte city ordinance passed to the contrary.

Mr. Cooper, who in 2014 refused to defend the state’s law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, said the law’s provisions conflict with the anti-discrimination policies in place in his office and those in other state agencies.

SEE ALSO: North Carolina overturns Charlotte ‘bathroom bill’ in one quick day’s work

“In order to protect our non-discrimination policy and employees along with those of our client, the state treasurer’s office, part of our argument will be that House Bill 2 is unconstitutional,” he said. “Therefore, our office will not represent the defendants in this lawsuit, nor future lawsuits involving the constitutionality of House Bill 2.”

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Equality North Carolina and Lambda Legal, said the bill “singles out the LGBT community for discrimination.”

“We’re grateful the attorney general stands on the right side of history with the many cities, states, businesses and individuals who have come out against this harmful measure,” the groups said in a joint statement following Mr. Cooper’s announcement.

Mr. McCrory has maintained that the law is not discriminatory and in a video Tuesday accused Mr. Cooper of “inventing conflict that simply doesn’t exist” to justify his refusal to defend the law.

Several businesses based in North Carolina, including Bank of America and PayPal, have expressed disapproval of the law. And the National Basketball Association said it is considering moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte in response to the measure.

A group of 80 CEOs headlined by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook on Tuesday also signed a letter to Mr. McCrory denouncing the law.

“We are disappointed with your decision to sign this discriminatory legislation into law,” said the letter, which was distributed by the Human Rights Campaign. “The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business.”

“As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you and the leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeat this law in the upcoming legislative session,” the letter concluded.

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