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LGBT Rights

The ACLU's LGBT Project works for an America free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means an America where LGBT people can live openly, where identities, relationships and families are respected, and where there is fair treatment on the job, in schools, housing, public places, health care, and government programs. 

Legal groups seek reversal of lower court ruling that left most transgender North Carolinians vulnerable

RICHMOND – LGBT rights groups challenging the North Carolina law that bans transgender people from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identity yesterday filed their opening brief on appeal requesting that the preliminary injunction in the case be broadened to protect all transgender people in the state from discrimination. In August, a district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the North Carolina university system from enforcing H.B. 2 against the three individual transgender plaintiffs in the lawsuit Carcaño v. McCrory, which is scheduled for trial in May 2017. The advocates also asked the Fourth Circuit to expedite the appeal and schedule oral argument for January.

“Every day that H.B. 2 singles out transgender North Carolinians – whether at school, at work, or just moving through their daily lives – is another day that the transgender community is told that they are second class,” said Chris Brook, ACLU of North Carolina legal director. “Though the district court recognized the serious harm to three of our clients at UNC as a result of H.B. 2, that recognition unfortunately didn’t extend to the harms that law inflicts on other transgender individuals in public buildings across North Carolina. We hope and expect that the Fourth Circuit will expand this ruling to protect all transgender people.”

The appeal filed today argues that H.B. 2 violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it specifically targets transgender people, and that discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination. While North Carolina has argued that H.B. 2 advances interests in public safety and privacy, Lambda Legal and the ACLU argue that these interests, which can be protected in other ways, do not justify the harms H.B. 2 imposes on transgender people and that to restore the status quo, the court must grant a broader preliminary injunction while the case proceeds to trial.


CHARLOTTE – The ACLU and Lambda Legal today called on Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina legislative leaders to stop playing games and repeal H.B. 2, the state law that bans many transgender people from appropriate restrooms and prohibits local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people. The two organizations issued the following statement in response to Gov. McCrory’s and legislative leaders’ demand that the City of Charlotte repeal its LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance as a precondition for the legislature considering the repeal of H.B. 2.

“North Carolina’s people and economy are suffering because the General Assembly and Governor McCrory passed a law that encourages discrimination against LGBT people and particularly targets and harms transgender people,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. “It is absurd, dishonest and wrong to blame the damage caused by H.B. 2 on a Charlotte ordinance that protects LGBT people from discrimination and is similar to laws in 18 states and more than 200 municipalities. North Carolina’s leaders need to stop blaming others, take responsibility for the disaster that is H.B. 2 and repeal the entire discriminatory law without delay. We urge the Charlotte City Council to stand firm on its commitment to protecting the LGBT community from discrimination by leaving its ordinance intact.”

“The reason the NBA, NCAA and countless other groups and companies have refused to do business in North Carolina is because H.B. 2 is an unprecedented and targeted attack on the LGBT community that is inconsistent with American values – not because Charlotte commendably decided to protect LGBT people from discrimination,” said Simone Bell, the Southern Regional Director for Lambda Legal. “Nondiscrimination policies like Charlotte’s are good and necessary measures that protect the LGBT community. Repealing Charlotte’s ordinance would be a step backward for equality, inclusion and fairness. Governor McCrory and the General Assembly need to stop pointing fingers, do the right thing and repeal all of H.B. 2’s harmful provisions.”


WINSTON-SALEM, NC – LGBT rights groups challenging North Carolina’s House Bill 2, the state law that bans many transgender people from restrooms that match their gender, today announced they will appeal part of a Friday district court ruling in order to seek broader relief for all transgender people in North Carolina before the case heads to a full trial.

On Friday, a district court judge blocked the University of North Carolina from enforcing the law against three transgender plaintiffs in the case and found that the challengers are likely to succeed in their argument that the law violates Title IX. In a notice of appeal filed today, the groups challenging the law announced plans to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to extend that ruling more broadly in order to protect all transgender people in North Carolina from the harms imposed by H.B. 2.

“We are thrilled that H.B. 2 is starting to crumble and relieved for our clients who have had a huge burden lifted as a result of the court’s Friday ruling,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “But we know the harmful effects of H.B. 2 are far reaching, and that is why we are seeking broader relief for the thousands of transgender people who call North Carolina home.”


RALEIGH, N.C. —A federal court today granted a request to stop the University of North Carolina from enforcing H.B. 2, the state law that bans many transgender people from restrooms that match their gender identity, against three transgender individuals who are challenging the law in court. In granting the preliminary injunction, the court found that the challengers are likely to succeed in their argument that the law violates Title IX.

The groups that brought the motion seeking preliminary relief, American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal, and the law firm of Jenner & Block are challenging the law on behalf of several LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina. They filed the motion for preliminary injunction while the case proceeds through the court system.

“Today is a great day and hopefully this is the start to chipping away at the injustice of H.B. 2 that is harming thousands of other transgender people who call North Carolina home. Today, the tightness that I have felt in my chest every day since H.B. 2 passed has eased. But the fight is not over: we won’t rest until this discriminatory law is defeated,” said Joaquín Carcaño, lead plaintiff in the case.


WINSTON-SALEM, NC – A federal court has scheduled the trial in a legal challenge to North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2, to begin on Monday, November 14.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder is holding arguments on Monday, August 1, on a motion for a preliminary injunction that asks the court to stop the enforcement of the provisions of the law that target transgender people for discrimination in single-sex facilities.

During the full trial, the court will also consider challenges to sections of HB2 that prohibit local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people.