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Thursday, August 24, 2017

By Colleen Jenkins and Julia Edwards

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) – A top Republican lawmaker in North Carolina said the state would not be “bullied” by the U.S. Justice Department into meeting a Monday deadline to change a new law regulating which bathrooms transgender people can use.

“We will take no action by Monday,” House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters in Raleigh on Thursday, the day after the federal government told the state that the law enacted in March violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

The law requires transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity. The Justice Department said North Carolina was discriminating against transgender state employees and it had until Monday to say whether it would remedy the violations.

If North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory does not say he will stand down from enforcing the law, the federal agency’s civil rights division could push for a court order. If a federal judge sides with the Justice Department, North Carolina will have to comply or face a restriction of federal funds.

A Justice Department spokeswoman would not say whether the department would take legal action against the state or what sources of funding may be restricted.

Moore said the tight deadline was unreasonable and that the federal government’s position was inappropriate.

“Obviously we don’t ever want to lose any money, but we’re not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday’s date,” Moore said. “That’s not how this works.”