Under the Dome

Business opposition to LGBT bathroom law grows over weekend

Controversy over North Carolina striking down Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance grew through the weekend, with more businesses opposing it and Gov. Pat McCrory on the defensive against what he says is a coordinated campaign of deception.

National newspaper editorials once again lambasted the state for a Republican-backed change in social policy, this time accusing North Carolina’s leaders of bigotry for enacting a law last week that precludes discrimination protections for transgender people.

Dozens of companies have gone on record in opposition, including firms that are already located here and those that say they will no longer send business this way. The president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Chamber issued a statement Saturday.

“North Carolina and its economy benefit and thrive from diversity and inclusion,” Tim Giuliani wrote. “Reducing anti-discrimination protections damages our reputation and will impact economic development.”

The nationally televised X Games are looking for their next home in 2018 and have been in discussions with Charlotte, according to the Austin Statesman-American newspaper, which said the games had a $172 million economic impact on that city. Cable network ESPN is among the companies that have said they “embrace diversity and inclusion.”

The ACLU, Equality N.C. and the Lambda Legal announced Sunday they will be filing a federal lawsuit on Monday.

McCrory’s office, in response to some of the news media coverage, on Friday night issued a Q&A to get the governor’s points across. The administration followed that up on Saturday by having the Cabinet agencies also send out the Q&A email, and then also emailed it to state employees all across North Carolina. His re-election campaign also distributed the email.

Several state employees complained to The N&O that the administration was unlawfully using state resources on a political issue. The governor would most likely counter that he sent it out to clarify his actions as governor, much like he campaigned around the state to promote the bond package, even though there might be political benefit to him.

A spokesman for McCrory responded Sunday evening to The N&O’s inquiry about the mass emails.

“To counter a coordinated national effort to mislead the public, intimidate our business community and slander our great state, the governor will continue to set the record straight on a common sense resolution to local government overreach that imposed new regulations on businesses that intruded into the personal lives of our citizens,” Graham Wilson said in an email. “The discrimination policies in place today in cities like Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville and in every business in North Carolina are the same as they were last month and last year.

“Where was this coordinated outrage and media attention when the original bathroom ordinance was defeated in Charlotte just last year?”

McCrory’s decision to sign the bill continued to receive support from the N.C. Values Coalition, which has decried corporate “bullying,” and the Civitas Institute. Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, an Apex Republican and a primary co-sponsor of the bill said his office had received more than 4,200 emails asking lawmakers to overturn Charlotte’s ordinance as soon as possible.

Rep. Dan Bishop, a Charlotte Republican co-sponsor of the bill, sent out a fund-raising plea saying a “radical transgender agenda” had targeted him for defeat.

The ordinance would have permitted transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify, as will as other broader non-discrimination requirements. HB2 prevented that ordinance from going into effect, prohibited cities and counties from adopting their own anti-discrimination ordinances and established a state law against discrimination that did not include transgender as a protected class.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO