May 5, 2016 at 10:41 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
White House: Justice Dept. behind warning over N.C. law

Josh Earnest, gay news, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on May 5, 2016, said the Justice Department was behind a warning over North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The White House on Thursday said it did not prompt the Justice Department to demand that North Carolina officials stop enforcing a controversial anti-LGBT law.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters during his daily press briefing that the decision to contact Gov. Pat McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina “was made by the Justice Department.”

“These kinds of enforcement actions are made independent of any sort of political interference or direction from the White House,” he said. “The White House as a matter of policy has been in discussions with a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, about what potential impact this law could have on programs that are funded in individual states by the federal government.”

McCrory in March signed House Bill 2, which bans people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity and bans municipalities in his state from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures.

McCrory’s administration on Wednesday received a letter from Principal Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Vanita Gupta that said HB 2 violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which addresses workplace discrimination. The Justice Department also told the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina that their compliance with the anti-LGBT law violates Title VII, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Act.

The Justice Department has determined trans people are protected under Title VII and Title IX.

McCrory’s administration has until Monday to stop enforcing HB 2 and notify state employees they can use restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters on Thursday that his state will not meet the deadline.

“We’re not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday’s date,” he said.

Earnest: President ‘has not pulled any punches’ over HB 2

HB 2 has sparked widespread outrage among LGBT rights advocates in North Carolina and across the country.

Earnest on Thursday noted that President Obama “has not pulled any punches when it comes to making clear his view that this law is wrong.” Beyoncé this week became the latest celebrity to speak out against HB 2.

The anti-LGBT law has also prompted calls to boycott North Carolina.

“In an economy where we see states aggressively competing to land business opportunities, there’s no denying that passing discriminatory laws like this one is counterproductive,” Earnest told reporters on Thursday.

North Carolina colleges and universities that continue to enforce HB 2 face the potential loss of up to $4.5 billion a year in federal funds.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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