Local News

Enforcing HB2 bathroom rule a low priority

Posted April 26, 2016

— State lawmakers held an emergency session last month to head off a pending ordinance in Charlotte that would have allowed transgender people to use public bathrooms that align with their gender identity, but local authorities say there's little inclination to enforce the new state law.

The highest-profile provision of House Bill 2, which was introduced, approved and signed into law in less than 12 hours, requires people to use public bathrooms that match the gender listed on their birth certificate. But the measure contains no language about how police and prosecutors should enforce the law.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said she has been studying the bill to figure out how she would prosecute a violator.

"What most people are struggling with is, how do you enforce it?" Freeman said. "There is no criminal penalty provided in that bill, so it's an open question."

Raleigh leaders have given up on trying to enforce the law, spokesman Damien Graham said.

"The law doesn't specifically speak to enforcement or penalty, so we are left at the point of not figuring out how to enforce this," Graham said. "We don't have the resources to post police officers outside bathrooms checking birth certificates."

Officers will respond to complaints under House Bill 2, he said, but it's unclear what would happen after that.

"The only thing we're left to do it respond if there is a concern or a complaint, just as we would any other issue. But the law doesn't speak to the penalties, so we're not sure how we would penalize that person," he said.

Freeman said other laws could come into play in situations where someone is in a bathroom that doesn't match their birth gender, such as trespassing. But overall, she said she doesn't foresee House Bill 2 as being a priority for police.

"This is not a law right now that there seems to be any clear direction on how we're going to move forward with it," she said.


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  • Had Enough Apr 27, 2016
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    Street justice will prevail!

  • Roy Pine Apr 27, 2016
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    Translation: We're losing hundreds of millions of dollars in business and are right down there with Mississippi as the butt of jokes everywhere, all for a law that cannot be enforced and thus will not do ONE IOTA to make women and children any safer than they already were.

    This is why Republicans weren't allowed in the driver's seat of NC government for 100 years. And God/Buddha/Allah/Odin willing, they'll soon be back in their booster seats with a juice pouch where they belong.

    The Democrats might have been corrupt, but at least they were competent.

  • Steve Faulkner Apr 27, 2016
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    Low priority? How about NO priority? There is no way to enforce it.

  • Xander Bogaerts Apr 27, 2016
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    Cleveland is a major city that approved transgender's use of bathroom of gender they identify with. Read about it here:

    Notice which establishment types the municipal code applies to. I wonder how the LGBT community there reacted in terms of not having every bathroom in any establishment both public and private? For example, are they satisfied with the municipal code/law, or not?

  • Steve Clark Apr 27, 2016
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    I'm with you Karen - and I admit I get upset when the media presents HB2 as organic.. it wasn't. I also agree that 'we' Repubs favor smaller Gov't... but when it's something as broad as Charlotte presented, I understand the state getting involved. I disagree with their response, but they were right to 'respond'.

    If we were to follow your lead, then Charlotte would have their law, and it would be completely unenforceable.. AND.. People that visit Charlotte might be shocked when a man is in the hotel pool locker room with their daughter.. LEGALLY.

    I hear you, about kicking a dead horse, but suggesting that Raleigh should have done things differently, without acknowledging that NONE of this would have EVER come up, if Charlotte wouldn't have 'opened Pandora's box', I think is a more than a bit one-sided. (I do love to debate you on here :-)

  • Karen Grigg Apr 27, 2016
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    So, if local law enforcement agencies are not equipped to enforce HB 2, what do we do with the bill now? Where's the teeth? If it cannot and will not be enforced, what's the point? Ah, but the point was those last 3 pages of the bill.

  • Johnny Malaria Apr 27, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Yes, but:

    Raleigh’s bathroom ordinance has been on the books since 1959, but the City Attorney’s office flagged it to be amended or removed from the rulebook in October when it launched its “recodification” process, said Damien Graham, Raleigh’s communications director.

    “The recodification team learned that this section had not been enforced or interpreted in anyone’s recent memory,” Graham said. City leaders will likely adopt the team’s recommendation to change the ordinance this summer, he added.

  • Karen Grigg Apr 27, 2016
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    Steve, I don't want to keep going over Charlotte again. I am not a resident of Charlotte, and if that is what Charlotte wanted to do, it's on them. It's not my problem. I am a resident of NC, so HB 2 does affect me. Usually, Republicans favor allowing localities to set their own rules, so it seems disingenuous that they jumped in here. If a Charlotte resident wants to state their opinion of their own ordinance, they can, but it's not really my business. I know about 200 other cities have a similar ordinance to Charlotte's, so, this wasn't a completely left field ordinance. Did Charlotte do any research beforehand? How and why was the ordinance created? Was it shoved through with a bunch of other stuff attached? If so, then Charlotte residents should take that up with Charlotte's government.

  • Steve Clark Apr 27, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Edward, neither law was ever meant to be enforced... political theater.

  • Edward Anderson Apr 27, 2016
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    Hrm....no money to hire police who would check every person's birth certificate against the sign on the door of the restroom they are entering. WHO CARRIES THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATE WITH THEM EVERYWHERE THEY GO?!?!?!