Obama Urges States to Overturn Laws on Bathroom Restrictions

Obama Says NC and MS Bathroom Laws Are Wrong
  • President reacts to measures in Mississippi, North Carolina
  • In London, Obama says British visitors shouldn't shy away

Laws recently passed in two states that restrict rights for gay and transgender people “are wrong and should be overturned,” President Barack Obama said, weighing in on an issue that has stirred a nationwide debate.

The president said restrictions put in place in North Carolina and Mississippi that would limit transgender people to using gender-segregated bathrooms matching their birth gender deliver a message that the law doesn’t treat all people equally. 

Obama spoke at a news conference Friday in the U.K., which has issued a travel advisory warning British citizens who are gay or transgender about the new laws. Obama said British visitors to the U.S. shouldn’t have to avoid those states.

“The people of North Carolina and Mississippi are wonderful people,” Obama said. “I also think that the laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned.”

Obama’s remarks, a response to a question, came amid a roiling debate about the rights of gay and transgender citizens in the U.S. While the Supreme Court in 2015 gave same-sex couples the right to marry across the U.S., other forms of discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation or gender status endure in many places.

The North Carolina law, signed by Governor Pat McCrory, requires that people use public bathrooms correlating with their gender at birth. A new Mississippi law allows some businesses to deny service to same-sex couples, and for the businesses to decide who may use which bathrooms.

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