Attorney General Loretta Lynch: “This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens”

On Monday afternoon, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the filing of a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina to block enforcement of an ordinance that violates the civil rights of state employees under Title VII, Title IX and VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act).

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Attorney General Lynch:

This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens, and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us. It’s about the founding ideals that have led this country – haltingly but inexorably – in the direction of fairness, inclusion, and equality for all Americans. This is not a time to act out of fear. This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion, and open-mindedness. What we must not do – what we must never do – is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human. […]

Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward. Please know that history is on your side.

Full transcript of announcement and press conference are below.

Justice Department complaint: PDF

Remarks as prepared (Time)

Good afternoon and thank you all for being here. Today, I’m joined by [Vanita] Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. We are here to announce a significant law enforcement action regarding North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, also known as House Bill 2.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2 in special session on March 23 of this year. The bill sought to strike down an anti-discrimination provision in a recently-passed Charlotte, North Carolina, ordinance, as well as to require transgender people in public agencies to use the bathrooms consistent with their sex as noted at birth, rather than the bathrooms that fit their gender identity. The bill was signed into law that same day. In so doing, the legislature and the governor placed North Carolina in direct opposition to federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity. More to the point, they created state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals, who simply seek to engage in the most private of functions in a place of safety and security – a right taken for granted by most of us.

Last week, our Civil Rights Division notified state officials that House Bill 2 violates federal civil rights laws. We asked that they certify by the end of the day today that they would not comply with or implement House Bill 2’s restriction on restroom access. An extension was requested by North Carolina and was under active consideration. But instead of replying to our offer or providing a certification, this morning, the state of North Carolina and its governor chose to respond by suing the Department of Justice. As a result of their decisions, we are now moving forward.

Today, we are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina. We are seeking a court order declaring House Bill 2’s restroom restriction impermissibly discriminatory, as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement. While the lawsuit currently seeks declaratory relief, I want to note that we retain the option of curtailing federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina as this case proceeds.

This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us. And it’s about the founding ideals that have led this country – haltingly but inexorably – in the direction of fairness, inclusion and equality for all Americans.

This is not the first time that we have seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation. We saw it in the Jim Crow laws that followed the Emancipation Proclamation. We saw it in fierce and widespread resistance to Brown v. Board of Education. And we saw it in the proliferation of state bans on same-sex unions intended to stifle any hope that gay and lesbian Americans might one day be afforded the right to marry. That right, of course, is now recognized as a guarantee embedded in our Constitution, and in the wake of that historic triumph, we have seen bill after bill in state after state taking aim at the LGBT community. Some of these responses reflect a recognizably human fear of the unknown, and a discomfort with the uncertainty of change. But this is not a time to act out of fear. This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion and open-mindedness. What we must not do – what we must never do – is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human. This is why none of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something they are not, or invents a problem that doesn’t exist as a pretext for discrimination and harassment.

Let me speak now to the people of the great state, the beautiful state, my state of North Carolina. You’ve been told that this law protects vulnerable populations from harm – but that just is not the case. Instead, what this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has already suffered far more than its fair share. This law provides no benefit to society – all it does is harm innocent Americans.

Instead of turning away from our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, let us instead learn from our history and avoid repeating the mistakes of our past. Let us reflect on the obvious but often neglected lesson that state-sanctioned discrimination never looks good in hindsight. It was not so very long ago that states, including North Carolina, had signs above restrooms, water fountains and on public accommodations keeping people out based upon a distinction without a difference. We have moved beyond those dark days, but not without pain and suffering and an ongoing fight to keep moving forward. Let us write a different story this time. Let us not act out of fear and misunderstanding, but out of the values of inclusion, diversity and regard for all that make our country great.

Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward. Please know that history is on your side. This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy – but we’ll get there together.

I want to thank my colleagues in the Civil Rights Division who have devoted many hours to this case so far, and who will devote many more to seeing it through. At this time, I’d like to turn things over to Vanita Gupta, whose determined leadership on this and so many other issues has been essential to the Justice Department’s work.

RECAPD (unedited close caption screen grap) Transcript of press conference: DOJ-May 9 Event

Vanita Gupta
>> THANK YOU FOR THIS POWERFUL WORDS. DROP THE ARC OF OUR COUNTRY’S HISTORY, FROM TRAGEDY TO MARCHES FOR EQUALITY, THERE HAVE BEEN PIVOTAL MOMENTS WHERE AMERICA’S LEADERS CHOSE TO STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT TO SAFEGUARD THE IDEAL OF EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW. HISTORY WILL RECORD YOUR INSPIRING WORDS TODAY IS ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS. I WANT TO TAKE A MOMENT TO THANK THE ENTIRE TEAM THROUGHOUT THE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION AND DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WHO HAVE WORKED TIRELESSLY TO ENSURE EVERYONE IN NORTH CAROLINA HAS THE FULL PROTECTION OF OUR LAWS. TODAY, WE FILED A FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT IN THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA. BEFORE I DISCUSS THE DETAILS OF OUR LEGAL ARGUMENT, I WANT TO MAKE ONE THING CLEAR. CALLING HB TO THE BATHROOM BILL TRIVIALIZES WHAT THIS IS ABOUT. IT TRANSLATES INTO DISCRIMINATION IN THE REAL WORLD. THE COMPLAINT WE FILED TODAY SPEAKS TO EMPLOYEES THAT FEEL STIGMATIZED ON JOBS. IT SPEAKS TO STUDENTS WHO FEEL LIKE THEIR CAMPUS TREATS THEM DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE OF WHO THEY ARE. IT SPEAKS TO SPORTS FANS WHO FEEL FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THEIR GENDER IDENTITY AND IT SPEAKS TO ALL OF US WHO HAVE EVER BEEN MADE TO FEEL INFERIOR, LIKE WE DON’T BELONG IN OUR COMMUNITY OR DON’T FIT IN. LET ME REINSURER — LENNY REASSURE EVERY TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUAL THAT YOU BELONG JUST AS YOU ARE THAT YOU ARE SUPPORTED AND PROTECTED. WE BRING THREE CLAIMS UNDER THREE DIFFERENT STATUTES. THREE OF THEM ARE LONG-STANDING IN THE EDUCATION CONTEXT. TITLE VII OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT, TITLE IX OF THE EDUCATION AMENDMENT IN 1972, IT IS FITTING THESE STATUTES THAT EMERGED FROM OUR NATION’S LONG STRUGGLE TO BANISH A LEGACY OF LEGAL DISCRIMINATION ARE NOW BEING USED TO DEFEND, TO UPHOLD, AND A FIRM THE PROGRESS THAT RESULTED FROM THAT STRUGGLE. AMERICA AT ITS BEST, BRIGHTEST AND STRONGEST. TITLE IX AND TITLE VII PROHIBIT DISSEMINATION BASED ON SEX. THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE HAS FOR SOME TIME MADE IT CLEAR THAT SEX DISCRIMINATION INCLUDES DISCRIMINATION AGAINST TRANSGENDER PEOPLE. THAT IS DISCRIMINATION BASED ON GENDER IDENTITY, CONSIST OF NOT ONLY WITH THE LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE, BUT WITH A LEGAL INTERPRETATION ADOPTED BY FEDERAL COURT, INCLUDING THE APPELLATE COURT WITH JURISDICTION OVER THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA. THERE IS NOTHING RADICAL OR EVEN UNUSUAL ABOUT THE NOTION THAT THE WORD SEX INCLUDES THE CONCEPT OF GENDER. TRANSGENDER PEOPLE ARE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE THEIR SEX DOES NOT MATCH WHAT IS THE — WHAT IS ASSIGNED AT BIRTH. HB TWO DISCRIMINATES AGAINST RESTROOMS CONSISTENT WITH A PERSON’S GENDER IDENTITY. IT IS DISCRIMINATION PLAIN AND SIMPLE. BILLS LIKE HB TWO MISS INTERPRET OR MAKE UP FACTS ABOUT GENDER IDENTITY. HERE ARE THE FACTS. TRANSGENDER MEN ARE MEN. A LIVE, WORK, STUDY AS MEN. TRANSGENDER WOMEN ARE WOMEN. THEY LIVE, WORK, AND STUDY AS WOMEN. OUR TITLE VII CLAIM IS BROUGHT AGAINST THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, THE NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, AND THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA BECAUSE OF SEX DISCRIMINATION. OUR TITLE IX CLAIM IS BROUGHT AGAINST THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA BECAUSE OF SEX DISCRIMINATION IN ITS EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM. WE ALSO BRING A CLAIM IN THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT, A MORE RECENT STATUTE DESIGNED TO PREVENT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST TRANSGENDER PEOPLE BY ENTITIES THAT ACCEPT CERTAIN FEDERAL FUNDS. FUNDS PLEDGED THAT THEY WOULD NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SEXUAL OR GENDER IDENTITY. WE PLAN TO HOLD THOSE ENTITIES ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE KIND OF DISCRIMINATION REQUIRED BY HB TWO. EVEN AS WE SEEK THAT COMPLIANCE, WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO WORKING WITH ANY AGENCY RECEIVING FEDERAL FUNDING TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO ENSURE THEIR COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL LAW. AND FOR THE REASONS I HIGHLIGHTED, HB TWO HIGHLIGHTS THIS, BUT ALSO THREATENS THE VALUES THAT DEFINE US AS A PEOPLE. THESE VALUES ARE TIMELESS. THEY SAY THAT YOU CAN BE WHO YOU ARE AND DESERVE TO LIVE WITH DIGNITY. THE COMPLAINT FILED TODAY SEEKS TO ENFORCE THESE LAWS AND PROTECT THESE PEOPLE. AT THIS TIME, I WILL PASS THE MICROPHONE TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: I’M GOING TO GO TO THE MIDDLE AND THEN OUT TO THE SIDE AS I USUALLY DO.

>> CHARLOTTE PASSED A LAW THAT WOULD ALLOW TRANSGENDERED PEOPLE TO CHOOSE A BATHROOM BASED ON HOW THEY IDENTIFY, BUT MANY HAVE NOT PASS LAWS THAT SPECIFICALLY ALLOW THAT. IS THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT THINKING OF INTERVENING? OR INTERVENING IN PLACES WITH WHAT NORTH CAROLINA HAS DONE?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: LET ME SPEAK TO THE LAST PART OF YOUR QUESTION WITH RESPECT TO JURISDICTIONS IT MAY HAVE PASSED LAWS SIMILAR TO HB TWO. TO THE EXTENT WE HAVE BEEN MADE AWARE OF THEM, THOSE SITUATIONS AS WELL, LET ME BE CLEAR WE REMAIN OPEN TO DISCUSSIONS WITH ANY JURISDICTION THAT HAS QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER A PARTICULAR ORDINANCE IS GOING TO FALL FOUL OF FEDERAL LAW. THE CHARLOTTE ORDINANCE ESSENTIALLY ADDED TO ITS ANTIDISCRIMINATION LANGUAGE MAKING IT CLEAR THAT IT AFFORDED PROTECTIONS TO THOSE DEALING WITH ISSUES OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND TENDER IDENTITY. HB TWO SAYING YOU CANNOT HAVE THAT AS PART OF YOUR NONDISCRIMINATION LAWS, WE MOVE TO STRIKE THAT DOWN. WE ENCOURAGE JURISDICTIONS TO BE AS OPEN AS POSSIBLE IN THEIR ANTIDISCRIMINATION COVERAGE.

>> WHAT IS THE THRESHOLD FOR THAT AND AT WHAT POINT WILL YOU GO AFTER NORTH CAROLINA’S FEDERAL FUNDING?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: THE STATUTES WE BROUGHT THIS LAWSUIT UNDER PROVIDE THE OPPORTUNITY TO CURTAIL FEDERAL FUNDING UNDER TITLE IX IN THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT. WE REMAIN OPEN TO DISCUSSIONS IN THE STATE AND KNOW THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM HAS REACHED OUT TO US AND THEIR BOARD OF GOVERNORS IS MEETING TOMORROW. WE REMAIN ANXIOUS TO SEE WHAT THOSE DISCUSSIONS WILL BRING. IT WOULD BE PREMATURE TO GIVE A DATE ON WHEN WE WOULD TAKE THAT STEP.

>> TODAY, THE GOVERNOR SAID THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT IS ENGAGING AND OVERREACH. WHAT ABOUT THAT?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: I THINK THE PEOPLE WHO FEEL IT ARE THE TRANSGENDERED INDIVIDUALS IN THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA WHO LIVE ASIDE THEIR NEIGHBORS WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS AND HAVE DONE SO FOR YEARS AND ARE NOW BEING SIGNALED OUT ON SOMETHING THEY HAVE NO CONTROL OVER AND IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF WHO THEY ARE. I WOULD SHIFT THE ISSUE TO CONSIDERATIONS ALONG THAT FRONT. THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA HAS BEEN AWARE WE HAVE BEEN REVIEWING AND MONITORING THESE LAWS WERE SOMETIME. WE HAVE BEEN INTO MEDICATION WITH THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM AND THEY HAVE BEEN AWARE OF THIS AS WELL. AS I NOTED IN MY REMARKS, IT WAS UNDER ACTIVE CONSIDERATION.

>> MISSISSIPPI HAS PASSED A LAW THAT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO NOT PROVIDE SERVICES THEY DISAGREE WITH FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGES. DOES THIS FALL INTO CIVIL RIGHTS LAW LIKE THIS WHEN DOES?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: STATES OR JURISDICTIONS MAY PASS LAWS THAT ALLOW BUSINESSES OR ANYONE ELSE TO DISCRIMINATE. WE WILL ALWAYS REVIEW THOSE LAWS AND SEE IF THERE IS A FACT FOR REVIEW. WE REMAIN OPEN TO TALKING TO JURISDICTIONS ABOUT THIS AND WHERE WE SEE LAWS LIKE THIS, WE ARE ACTIVELY REVIEWING AND MONITORING THOSE. I AM UNABLE TO COMMENT NOW.

>> THE ELECTION CALENDAR IS WELL ADVANCED.

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: THAT INVESTIGATION IS AN ONGOING MATTER. THEY WILL REVIEW THE FACTS AND EVIDENCE AND MAKE A RECOMMENDATION AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME. I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ON THAT PARTICULAR MATTER.

>> THE AVERAGE AMERICAN IS WONDERING WHY IT TOOK SO LONG TO REACH THE CONCLUSION ON THE INVESTIGATION.

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: WE DO ALL OF OUR VIEWS AND INVESTIGATIONS CAREFULLY, THOROUGHLY, AND EFFICIENTLY. WHEN THE MATTER IS READY FOR RESOLUTION, WE WILL COME TO A DECISION AT THAT TIME.

>> ONE OTHER THING THE GOVERNOR MENTIONED TODAY IS THAT CONGRESS SHOULD HAVE SOME CLARITY IN THE TODAY WITH EXISTING DISCRIMINATION LAWS OR CLARIFY THE INTENT OR MEANING. DO YOU THINK THERE IS ROOM TO SPECIFY ADDITIONAL PROTECTIVE CLASSES TO REMOVE ANYTHING THAT MIGHT EXIST?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: OUR POSITION IS FEDERAL LAW HAS BEEN CLEAR FOR SOME TIME THAT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST SEX INCLUDES DISSEMINATION AGAINST INDIVIDUALS BASED ON SEXUAL AND GENDER IDENTITY. THE FOURTH CIRCUIT RECENTLY MADE IT CLEAR. ONLY ABOUT TWO WEEKS AGO. I DON’T HAVE ANY FURTHER COMMENT ON THE GOVERNOR’S UNDERSTANDING OF THAT LAW. THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT SPECIFICALLY TARGETS GENDER IDENTITY. THE LAW AND THE CASE LAW AROUND TITLE VII AND THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT CLEARLY INDICATE HB TWO IS IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW.

>> AND THE LAST 48 HOURS, THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT MEXICO THAT THE EXTRADITION OF EL CHAPO IS IMMINENT. IS THE U.S. CONCERNED THAT HE WAS TAKEN TO A DIFFERENT PRISON THAT IS NOT AS SECURE AS THE ONE HE WAS AT BEFORE?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: THAT IS A MATTER BEING HANDLED BY THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT AND THE MEXICAN ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE. WE HAVE PROVIDED THEM THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO MAKE THOSE DETERMINATIONS AND WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO AN IMMINENT RESOLUTION OF THAT. I’M NOT ABLE TO GIVE YOU A TIMELINE OR PREDICTION ON WHEN IT WOULD ACTUALLY OCCUR. HIS CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT ARE UNDER THEIR CONTROL, SO I’M NOT ABLE TO GIVE YOU A COMMENT ON THAT.

>> THE LAWSUIT REFERS TO BATHROOM AND CHANGING FACILITIES. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY YOU DON’T SEE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO? SOME SAY THEY MIGHT UNDERSTAND WHY THEY COULD CHANGE FACILITIES BECAUSE THEY ARE COMPLETELY NAKED IN THOSE FACILITIES? WHY DO YOU NOT SEE ANY VALID DISTINCTION BETWEEN THEM? ATT.

GEN. LYNCH: HB TWO DOES NOT DISTINGUISH AMONG THEM. IT WOULD REQUIRE THEM TO TREAT STATE EMPLOYEES DIFFERENTLY AND IS IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW. AS LONG AS THEY ARE EQUALLY AVAILABLE TO ALL STUDENTS AND ALL EMPLOYEES, YOU CANNOT SINGLE OUT ONE PARTICULAR GROUP OF PEOPLE TO BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY.

>> DOESN’T THE LAW BAN ALL TYPES OF LGBT ISSUES ACROSS THE STATE? IS THERE ANYTHING THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT MIGHT DO ABOUT THAT?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: THIS LAWSUIT FOCUS ON A FEDERAL STATUTE WE HAVE MENTIONED. THERE ARE OTHER LAWSUITS CURRENTLY PENDING THAT WE FEEL WILL BE MOVING TOWARD AT THE SAME TIME AS WELL, ALL OF WHICH RECOGNIZE HB TWO HAS IN PLACE STATE SANCTIONED DISCRIMINATION.

>> WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE ACTIONS OF THE GOVERNOR IN YOUR HOME STATE AND DOES THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE PLAN TO APPEAL THE VOTING RIGHTS LAWSUIT?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: WITH RESPECT TO THE VOTING RIGHTS LAWSUIT, WE HAVE FILED A NOTICE OF APPEAL THIS PAST FRIDAY. AS I HAVE INDICATED, WE HAVE CONTINUED TO ENFORCE EVERY INDIVIDUAL’S RIGHT TO VOTE AND KEEP THAT FREE FOR EVERYONE. THAT MOTION WAS FILED THIS FRIDAY. WITH RESPECT TO THE GOVERNOR’S ACTION, I DON’T HAVE ANY COMMENT. WE WERE ENGAGED IN DISCUSSIONS WITH THEM ABOUT THE TIMING OF A RESPONSE IN THE HOPE THAT WE COULD HELP WITH THEM AMELIORATING THIS LAW IN SOME WAY. HOW IT WOULD BE HANDLED IS UP TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE. WE WERE HOPEFUL WE COULD HAVE THESE DISCUSSIONS WITH THEM AND IT IS UNFORTUNATE THE GOVERNOR’S ACTIONS CURTAIL THAT. HAVING MADE THAT CHOICE, WE ARE MOVING FORWARD.

>> GIVEN THAT IT IS A POLITICAL SEASON, DID YOU CONSULT WITH THE WHITE HOUSE ON ANY OF THIS?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: WE MAKE OUR ENFORCEMENT ACTION SEPARATELY AND INDEPENDENTLY. CERTAINLY THE WHITE HOUSE IS AWARE OF THE LAWS AND THE ISSUES AND THEY HAVE HAD THEIR OWN COMMENTS ON THIS. WE HAVE MADE OUR DECISIONS BASED ON WHAT WE THINK IS THE APPROPRIATE MOVE TO MAKE AT THIS TIME.

>> YOU JUST REFERRED TO EXPANDING AND IMMINENT RESOLUTION. DOES THAT MEAN HIS TRANSFER HERE IS IMMINENT? >> WE ARE WAITING FOR A FINAL ORDER FROM THE MEXICAN COURT THAT WOULD ORDER THE EXTRADITION. WE ARE HOPEFUL WE WILL OBTAIN THAT AND WE ARE WORKING WITH MEXICAN AUTHORITIES TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE PROVIDED ALL THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO MAKE THAT DETERMINATION. ONCE THAT IS ENTERED, WE — IT IS UP TO THE MEXICAN COURT SYSTEM AND WE WILL BE IN CONTENT WITH THEM ABOUT THE TRANSFER AND THAT HAS NOT BEGUN TO OCCUR AS OF YET.

>> IF HE IS EXTRADITED, HOW DO YOU DETERMINE HOW THESE CASES WILL BE PROSECUTED? WHAT ARE THE FACTORS TO LOOK AT WHEN DECIDING WHO TO PROSECUTE?

>> WE LOOK AT ALL THE RELEVANT CHARGES TO DETERMINE WHAT PARTICULAR JURISDICTION CAN COVER MOST OF IF NOT ALL THE RELEVANT CONDUCT AND WILL PROVIDE THE BEST REMEDY FOR HIS ACTIONS. EVERY CASE IS CONSIDERED AND WE OFTEN COMBINE CASES. THERE’S A PROCESS THAT IS UNDERGONE HERE AND IN THE DEPARTMENT.

>> IN TWO SEPARATE CASES, YOU WENT AFTER APPLE AND IN BOTH OF THOSE CASES, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND THE F EI BACKED OFF. THE DEFENDANT WAS WILLING TO OFFER HIS PASSPORT. DO YOU WISH YOU MIGHT HAVE HANDLED THESE CASES DIFFERENTLY?

ATT. GEN. LYNCH: NO. AS WE SAID AT THE TIME WHEN WE MADE THOSE MOTIONS, WE EXHAUSTED ALL OPPORTUNITIES. WE ALWAYS CONTINUE TO OBTAIN INFORMATION AND WE ARE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO MOVE FORWARD, WE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT AND LIVE UP TO OUR OBLIGATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES AND NOTIFY THE OTHER PARTY THAT ASSISTANCE IS NO LONGER NEEDED. THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION IS NO. THANK YOU ALL.

Justice Department News Release:

Justice Department Files Complaint Against the State of North Carolina to Stop Discrimination Against Transgender Individuals

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced today that the Justice Department has filed a complaint against the state of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) alleging that they are discriminating against transgender individuals in violation of federal law as a result of the state’s compliance with and implementation of House Bill 2 (H.B. 2). H.B. 2 requires public agencies to treat transgender individuals, whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth, differently from similarly situated non-transgender individuals.

The complaint, filed in the Middle District of North Carolina, follows the department’s notice to the defendants on May 4, 2016, that they are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA).

“This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms,” said Attorney General Lynch. “This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens, and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us. It’s about the founding ideals that have led this country – haltingly but inexorably – in the direction of fairness, inclusion, and equality for all Americans. This is not a time to act out of fear. This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion, and open-mindedness. What we must not do – what we must never do – is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human.”

The complaint alleges that the defendants, as a result of compliance with and implementation of the bathroom and changing facility provisions of H.B. 2, are engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender public employees and applicants in violation of Title VII, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. Access to restrooms is an important, basic condition of employment and denying transgender individuals access to restrooms and changing facilities consistent with their gender identity constitutes unlawful sex discrimination.

The complaint also alleges that, as a result of these same provisions in H.B. 2, UNC and DPS are violating the non-discrimination provision of VAWA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity. Additionally, the complaint alleges that UNC is violating Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. These laws apply to recipients of federal funding.

“H.B. 2 violates the laws that govern our nation and the values that define us as a people,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Transgender men are men – they live, work and study as men. Transgender women are women – they live, work and study as women. America protects the rights of all people to be who they are, to express their true selves and to live with dignity.”

The complaint is being handled by the Civil Rights Division which enforces the non-discrimination provisions of Title VII, Title IX and VAWA.

  4 comments for “Attorney General Loretta Lynch: “This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens”

  1. JanF
    May 10, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Attorney General Lynch is a native of Greensboro NC and had these words for her fellow North Carolinians:

    Let me speak now to the people of the great state, the beautiful state, my state of North Carolina. You’ve been told that this law protects vulnerable populations from harm – but that just is not the case. Instead, what this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has already suffered far more than its fair share. This law provides no benefit to society – all it does is harm innocent Americans.

    Instead of turning away from our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, let us instead learn from our history and avoid repeating the mistakes of our past. Let us reflect on the obvious but often neglected lesson that state-sanctioned discrimination never looks good in hindsight. It was not so very long ago that states, including North Carolina, had signs above restrooms, water fountains and on public accommodations keeping people out based upon a distinction without a difference. We have moved beyond those dark days, but not without pain and suffering and an ongoing fight to keep moving forward. Let us write a different story this time. Let us not act out of fear and misunderstanding, but out of the values of inclusion, diversity and regard for all that make our country great.

    • Denise Velez
      May 10, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Elections have important consequences – we focus so much on the President – we often forget how important positions like Attorney General are. Thank you Jan – for posting this – and we can thank President Obama for Loretta Lynch!

      • JanF
        May 10, 2016 at 11:23 am

        I really like Loretta Lynch. I don’t know how she keeps a straight face when she is asked some of these questions. I would be rolling my eyes … or maybe glaring at the questioners.

  2. JanF
    May 11, 2016 at 10:26 am

    From Reuters Wednesday morning

    The next step is likely to be a federal judge’s decision on whether to impose an injunction, or temporary ruling, to void the North Carolina law pending a trial. Regardless of how a judge might rule on an injunction, the case stands to add to a growing body of legal decisions that have tended to side in favor of transgender rights but not enough to dissuade states like North Carolina.

    A handful of U.S. states and cities have attempted to enact measures affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, but North Carolina is the first state to focus on transgender people’s use of public bathrooms.

    “This is absolutely a critical moment in terms of the focus and the answers that will come through these cases about the established scope of protections for transgender people,” said Jennifer Levi, a lawyer with the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. […]

    At least two provisions of federal law ban discrimination on the basis of sex — Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers employment, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

    The issue before the courts is whether “sex” also applies to gender identity. The Obama administration has taken a firm stance that transgender people are protected, a point that Attorney General Loretta Lynch emphasized on Monday.

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