20 US states are suing the Biden administration for enforcing an executive order prohibiting any kind of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, with signatories arguing that the order cannot be used to solve “controversial and localised” issues such as trans people’s access to bathroom facilities. Tennessee attorney general Herbert Slatery filed the 38-page brief to the court for the eastern district of the state, claiming that Biden’s order misinterprets the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling on workplace discrimination.
The brief reads: “The guidance purports to resolve highly controversial and localized issues such as whether employers and schools may maintain sex-separated showers and locker rooms…But the agencies have no authority to resolve those sensitive questions, let alone to do so by executive fiat without providing any opportunity for public participation.” The brief was signed by attorneys representing a handful of other states including Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia, all of which have passed anti-trans legislation this year.
South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson is supporting the lawsuit, arguing that federal agencies should not have the power to enforce such an order. He argued that the Biden administration has misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s decision in the Bostock v. Clayton County case by saying the anti-discrimination ruling also applies to single-sex facilities such as changing rooms and bathrooms.
Despite hostility towards the Biden administration, LGBTQ+ activists have shown support for the January 2021 executive order. The president of the Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, has even referred to it as the “most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ever issued by a United States president.”