In an elegant defense of transgender rights U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch condemns North Carolina’s discriminatory law restricting transgender people’s use of bathrooms.
Announcing that the federal government would sue the state over the law known as HB2, Lynch, the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general, compared North Carolina’s new law to Jim Crow laws, resistance to school desegregation, and opposition to same-sex marriage.
Attorney General Lynch held a press conference Monday to announce legal action the Department of Justice is taking against the state of North Carolina because of the so-called bathroom bill, also known as HB2.
Lynch said the law “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,” declaring:
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.
Instead of turning away from our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, let us instead learn from 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.
Lynch went on to speak directly to the transgender people, declaring that the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration stands with the community, and that history is on their side:
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.
The statement from Lynch is remarkable for its elegance, and its humanity.
Lynch’s impassioned remarks are a well reasoned and humane response to the often angry and frightened rhetoric from the conservative Christians who stand behind North Carolina’s mean-spirited and discriminatory law; more than this, her remarks constitute a powerful declaration of solidarity with the transgender community, a declaration that is at once both compassionate and wise.