White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment Friday on the newly enacted replacement to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2, maintaining President Trump believes the issue of transgender bathroom access belongs to localities and is “not one that he believes merits federal attention.”
Spicer made the remarks under questioning from the Washington Blade on whether Trump supports the new law North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed Thursday as part of a deal with leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature to replace HB2.
“I have not asked the president,” Spicer said. “I would stay consistent with what he said during the campaign cycle. He believes in state rights.”
Criticized by LGBT advocates as a bait-and-switch that gives the appearance of repeal while doubling-down on discrimination, the new law prohibits state agencies, municipalities and the University of North Carolina from the “regulation of access” to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers unless they have the legislature’s permission. It also bans municipalities until 2020 from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures that would apply to private businesses or public accommodations.
Over the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump expressed views about HB2, but said different things. Initially, Trump said transgender people should be able to use the restroom they think is right for them and Caitlyn Jenner is welcome to use the restroom in Trump Tower, but Trump later said he’s “with the state” on the law.
Spicer referenced Trump’s remarks on Jenner when asked by the Blade about Trump’s personal views on the way states should approach the issue, reiterating localities, not the federal government, should make the decision.
“I think that the president’s made it clear,” Spicer said. “This issue came up when Caitlyn Jenner, in particular, came to Trump Tower, and he said he didn’t really care. But I think it is a state and local issue, not one that he believes merits federal attention.”
Notably, Spicer later during the briefing saw a role for the federal government to intervene in response to a Skype question about the recent threat from the Trump administration to cut U.S. funds from “sanctuary cities.”
“I would say that the president finds its unacceptable that some localities and counties, potentially some states, have prioritized a political agenda over the safety of their people by flouting our nation’s immigration laws, becoming so-called sanctuary cities,” Spicer said. “The failure to follow federal law can have tragic consequences for all of our citizens in all of our country.”
Watch the video here (h/t tommyxchristopher):
Spicer again says trans civil rights are a “state and local” issue pic.twitter.com/UUIV1U1J5c
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) March 31, 2017