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North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

Will Business Boycotts Kill N.C.’s Most Discriminatory Anti-LGBT Law?

WRAL reports that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory met with the LGBT-activist organization Human Rights Campaign’s president Thursday, along with the executive director of Equality N.C. and a transgender advocate.  The civil liberties groups called for the repeal of HB 2, the widely controversial bill signed by the governor last week which would require transgender individuals to only use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth.

Chad Griffin, the National Human Rights Campaign President delivered McCrory a letter by hand which had accumulated over 100 signatures from CEOs and executives at large corporations, which say they will not do business in a state that discriminates against LGBT Americans.

Among the signatures on the letter were the CEOs of Starbucks, Citibank, Apple, Kellogg, Hilton, IBM and Facebook.  The state’s top employers were also among those national names–Biogen, RedHat, PayPal, Lowe’s, American Airlines.

Most significantly might be the inclusion of Bank of America, the state’s top corporate employer–and major donor to state political races.  The Charlotte-based bank was a major supporter of McCrory in the 2012 governor’s race.

“Such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business,” said Bank of America in a statement.

HRC President Griffin stated that most corporations have LGBT people in important roles where they would not feel welcome doing business in North Carolina after HB 2.

 

“This governor and this legislature has sent the message to every single company in this country- all of those that the state is currently pitching in competition with other states to bring jobs here. He sent the message that this state is closed for business,” Griffin said.

The New York Times reports that effects are already being felt around the state in ways similar to Indiana, a state that passed a bill last year which had the same impact as HB 2.  Indianapolis lost $60 million in the next year in convention spending.

The High Point Market Authority, which runs what it bills as the largest furniture show in the world, said it was facing a raft of cancellations for this year’s show, set to open in two weeks.

“Based on the reaction in just the last few days, hundreds and perhaps thousands of our customers will not attend market this April,” the authority said. It estimates the overall economic impact of the show, which typically attracts about 75,000 people to High Point, at over $5 billion.

Despite opposition from leading businesses, McCrory has maintained that he does not fear their threats or believe this will hurt the state economy.  He’s also lashed out at Andrew Cuomo, the N.Y. Governor calling to ban all unnecessary state travel to N.C. along with the governors of Washington and Vermont and the mayors of San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Boston.

Governor McCrory has claimed he has also received a letter of support from 334 N.C. businesses calling themselves the North Carolina Values Coalition; however, this claim is unsubstantiated and so far has not held up to scrutiny.  Only 41 of the businesses allowed themselves to be publicly identified.  According to McCrory, this was to protect them from harassment from LGBT activists.

The New York Times reports that these seem to be small local businesses without a lot of real cash to back their support.  Among those are companies with religious messages in their names, such as Prayerful Touch Massage and Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning.

One of the largest companies said to have signed the letter, the apparel maker Hanes Brands, denied this week that it supported the bill and demanded to be removed from the list. Hanes cited the company’s “strong anti-discrimination policies and practices that include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

McCrory has condemned the media for its depiction of HB 2, claiming they could not “communicate the clear facts,” calling out The New York Times and the Huffington Post by name.  He also fired off at the NCAA, which has condemned the law as well, as hypocritical for not boycotting Houston and other cities with discriminatory policies.

“North Carolina has been the target of a vicious, nationwide smear campaign,” McCrory said in a video statement.

According to McCrory, “We have not taken away any rights that have currently existed in any city in North Carolina, from Raleigh to Durham to Chapel Hill to Charlotte.”

“Every city and every corporation has the exact same discrimination policy this week as they had two weeks ago,” McCrory said in a press conference.

Fact checking website PolitiFact studied this response along with the News & Observer of Raleigh to declare it false by all accounts, citing examples in Carrboro and Raleigh where policies would be overruled by HB2 and cases where cities have lost the right to enact anti-discrimination policies for contractors.

Also in dire need of fact checking is the NC Values Coalition. How Hanes ended up on the list is another mystery being handled with flippancy.

As Greensboro.Com reports:

When asked about the HanesBrands error, NC Values Coalition spokeswoman Kami Mueller said her group acknowledges the mistake and has removed the company from its list.

When asked about the veracity of the rest of the list, Mueller clarified that it actually represents more than 300 individuals, not businesses.

“The people on the list are business leaders who gave permission for their companies to be listed,” Mueller said.

But Keith Zimmerman, the HanesBrands employee on the NC Values Coalition list of supporters, “does not hold a leadership position in which he would speak for the company,” according to Hall.

“He had no intention of speaking for the company and is not authorized to do so,” Hall said.

When asked if there was a chance that other people on the list might not be authorized to represent their companies, Mueller said: “There’s a chance of everything. There’s a chance I could get hit by a bus.”

About Rebecca Lawrence

Rebecca Lawrence is a freelancer in Brooklyn, NY. She is owned by two blind cats. Tweet at her @rebeccalawrence

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