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Major companies oppose LGBT law; supporters line up smaller firms

Opponents to House Bill 2 protest in front of Governor's Mansion

VIDEO: Opponents to the new North Carolina law restricting LGBT protections protest in front of the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, NC Thursday afternoon, March 24, 2016
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VIDEO: Opponents to the new North Carolina law restricting LGBT protections protest in front of the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, NC Thursday afternoon, March 24, 2016

UPDATED The leaders of more than 80 major businesses from North Carolina and around the country are calling for the repeal of the new state law that precludes discrimination protection for transgender people.

Their letter made public Tuesday represents a much more extensive list of business opposition to the legislation that Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law last week than has been previously made public. It was organized by Equality N.C. and the Human Rights Campaign.

It came hours after the N.C. Values Coalition claimed to have the support of more than 300 business owners, although it only released 41 names, saying others were afraid of retaliation. The organization released a spreadsheet that it said identified those people by occupation but not by name. Two of the companies listed said the people who signed up were not authorized to do so, and have their own anti-discrimination policies.

The coalition fought the Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathrooms of their choice and helped pass the legislation. Their supporters signed a letter to the governor and legislature thanking them for enacting the law.

While the opposition letter represented major corporations, all of those who signed the letter of support for the new law were from small companies based in this state.

The opposition letter says, in part: “The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development.” We believe that HB 2 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the nation. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.”

Among the opposition signers: Mitchell Gold, co-founder and chairman of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; Virginia M. Rometty, chairwoman, president and CEO of IBM corporation; Tim Cook, CEO of Apple; Bob and Harvey Weinstein of the Weinstein Company; Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook; Marissa Mayer, president and CEO of Yahoo.

The Values Coalition issued this statement: "North Carolina is consistently one of the top five states in the nation for business and economic growth. Any businesses threatening to not do business in our great state based on dishonest attacks by opponents of women's and girls' privacy and safety are only hurting themselves.”

“Thanks to Governor McCrory and the General Assembly's leadership and immediate action to ensure North Carolinians’ privacy and safety receives maximum protection, North Carolina will continue to flourish. It would be a shame for any companies to miss out on that simply because they believe men should be allowed into locker rooms with girls and women.”

The Values Coalition list included someone who said he represented Hanesbrands, the Winston-Salem based apparel company. A spokesman said the company has not taken a formal position on it, but has a strict anti-discrimination policy. The coalition apologized and said it would remove the company’s name from the list.

Tuesday night, Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston said an independent contractor had used the company’s name without permission.

Staff writer Colin Campbell contributed.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

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