North Carolina Businesses Protest Anti-LGBT Law

By Joanne Deschenaux Mar 31, 2016
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The fight against North Carolina’s new law that invalidates nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals gained support on March 29, when more than 80 prominent business leaders signed a letter calling for a full repeal.

“Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country,” reads the letter to North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, released by LGBT civil rights groups the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC. “As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you and the leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeal this law in the upcoming legislative session.”

The legislation, H.B. 2, which McCrory signed into law on March 23, eliminates existing municipal nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities within the state in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity,

"Discrimination is bad for North Carolina, bad for America and bad for business," said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement. "These business leaders are speaking out because they know this attack on lesbian, gay, bisexual and especially transgender North Carolinians isn't just morally wrong—it also puts their employees, customers and North Carolina's economy at risk. For the sake of all North Carolinians, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly must act now to repeal this heinous attack on fairness and equality."

"North Carolina's place as a business leader in the South is based on fairness, inclusion and diversity,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “H.B. 2 does not represent North Carolina values, and it weakens our competitive edge. We are glad to see our business community in the Old North State standing up against discriminatory measures like this. Governor McCrory made a mess of our state last week, and our businesses are leading the charge to repair our state to a place of fairness."

Among those who signed the letter are IBM CEO Virginia Rometty, Apple head Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced on March 28 that he would veto anti-LGBT legislation in Georgia. Many prominent national businesses had said that they would cease doing business in Georgia if an anti-LGBT law was enacted. 

Attorney General Won’t Defend Law

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is challenging the governor in his bid for re-election this November, announced March 29 that his office won't defend this "national embarrassment" of a law against a federal lawsuit filed by two transgender men, a lesbian law professor and civil rights groups.

"We are here because the governor has signed statewide legislation that puts discrimination into the law," Cooper announced. Citing criticism from a long list of major corporations and sports organizations, he said: "It will set North Carolina's economy back if we don't repeal it."

McCrory has complained that a well-coordinated national campaign in opposition of the law is "distorting the truth." He accused Cooper of "inventing conflict that simply doesn't exist" to justify his argument to refuse to defend the law, according to the Associated Press.

Joanne Deschenaux, J.D., is SHRM’s senior legal editor. 

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