Seeds: Previously, North Carolina refused to follow a federal directive that ordered the overturning of the “bathroom bill,” a law that would force transgender individuals to use the bathroom that coordinates with the sex written on their birth certificate, rather than the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. In response to North Carolina’s refusal, the Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit against the state. Ironically, in true American fashion, North Carolina filed a lawsuit on the Justice Department the very same day on the basis that the federal government is infringing upon the powers of the state government. Today, a federal judge ruled that UNC cannot enforce this bill.
Core: Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is mostly known as a victory for the African-American Civil Rights Movement because it made discrimination based on race illegal, the law also applies to discrimination based on sex. This portion of the Civil Rights Act is the foundation of the Justice Department’s case against North Carolina. Many are comparing the struggle between the North Carolina government and the Justice Department to the struggle over the repeal of Jim Crow Laws in the 1960’s. In fact, Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated that, “This is not the first time that we have seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress.” However, others argue that the bathroom law is not a case of discrimination in the first place, but rather one of public safety.
Skin: Many are proving to be extremely passionate about this issue. For example, the bill was protested outside of the North Carolina State House in Raleigh. Supporters and dissenters both gathered on the lawn and disputed the validity of the bill. Additionally, even celebrity musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, and Nick Jonas have publicly shown their support for the fight against the bathroom bill by canceling their concerts in North Carolina, costing the venues upwards of $200,000 in ticket sales.
Leaves: This issue not only addresses the rights and protections of transgender people, but also raises questions about the defining lines between the powers of the state vs. the powers of the federal government. This struggle dates back as early as the writing of the Constitution and continues to affect almost every domestic issue, from transgender rights to taxes. This case will potentially redefine the balance of power between these two related entities. Furthermore, while the outcome of these dueling lawsuits is currently unknown, they could also inspire a watershed moment in the push for equal rights for transgender citizens.
Food For Thought: What do you think of the bathroom bill?
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