ACLU says North Carolina anti-gay law may be unconstitutional

Mon. March 28, 2016 9:10 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Speaking with Asheville NPR affiliate WCQS, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said that an anti-gay bill approved last week in North Carolina may be unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, North Carolina lawmakers approved and Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed into law House Bill 2, which bars any city, town or municipality from enacting measures that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The law also makes North Carolina the first state in the nation to prohibit students in public schools from using the bathroom that does not conform to their gender at birth. Similar attempts in South Dakota and Tennessee failed this legislative session.

Approved during a one-day special session, the law was a response to a Charlotte LGBT protections ordinance that was set to take effect on April 1.

Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of NC, said the bill was born out of animus toward the LGBT community and may put the state at risk of losing Title IX funding.

"Back in the mid 90s there's a Supreme Court decision that's comparable to this, in which a state decided that they were going to revoke the power of localities to pass protective ordinances," Preston said. "And the Supreme Court found that since it was born out of animus the end of the day this was promoting discrimination and that the state could not do that. They could not revoke that kind of power. I believe it was under equal protection. ...I think it's a very similar scenario, where you have the Legislature revoking power from local governments based on animus towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender individuals and because of that there's, I think, so pretty serious constitutionality concerns here."

Preston added the ACLU is preparing a challenge to the law.

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