Under the Dome

23 more firms, 500 college employees, 32 bookstores and Cirque du Soleil oppose HB2

HB2: A timeline for North Carolina’s controversial law

North Carolina repealed HB2 in 2017 but left intact some of its provisions. But with Charlotte’s reputation tainted, the city is still paying to market itself to visitors.
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North Carolina repealed HB2 in 2017 but left intact some of its provisions. But with Charlotte’s reputation tainted, the city is still paying to market itself to visitors.

House Bill 2 has been hotly debated for more than three weeks, and petitions against the new LGBT law continued to grow Friday. Cirque du Soleil also canceled its North Carolina performances.

Human Rights Campaign, the national LGBT advocacy group, added 23 companies, including some corporate giants, to its petition calling for a repeal of the law.

The additions are: American Express Co., AXA Financial Inc., Bloomberg L.P., Capital One, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, Campbell Soup Co., CohnReznick LLP, CrowdRise, eMaint Enterprises LLC, Ernst & Young LLP, the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., John Hancock Financial, Kohler Co., Logitech, Plum Organics, RBC Capital Markets, REI, Strava Inc., The Hartford, Time Warner Cable, United Airlines, Visa Inc. and Williams-Sonoma Inc.

The letter to Gov. Pat McCrory now includes 160 companies.

“These businesses understand that discrimination is bad for North Carolina and will continue to speak out until Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly repeal this heinous attack on basic human dignity,” HRC president Chad Griffin said in a news release.

Also Friday, Cirque du Soleil announced that it will cancel performances scheduled for Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro in coming months.

“We behave as change agents to reach our ultimate goal of making a better world with our actions and our productions,” the group’s announcement said. “We sincerely hope that the customers that have purchased tickets for our performances in North Carolina will understand our motivation, and we look forward to performing in North Carolina when this issue is addressed.”

The N.C. Republican Party issued a statement noting that Cirque du Soleil still plans to perform in Russia.

“Cirque du Soleil is yet the latest example of selective outrage and hypocritical attacks coming from out-of-state elites that unfairly target North Carolinians for economic retaliation,” GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse said.

Meanwhile, a group called Scholars for North Carolina’s Future released a petition Friday that included the names of 500 faculty members, staff and graduate students from public and private universities across North Carolina.

“We are especially concerned that the bill has been justified as a measure that will protect women and children from abuse absent any empirical evidence of such a threat,” the petition says. “Historically, such claims that women and children need protection have legitimized a range of forms of violence either initiated by the government or to which the government has turned a blind eye, including the eugenics movement and lynching.

“The bill threatens the state’s economic well-being and risks future job creation for North Carolinians. We urge legislators to make good on their promise to serve the public good by repealing the bill before it further damages the state we hold dear.”

Another academically minded group weighed in as well: independent bookstores and publishers. They released a petition Thursday evening calling for the repeal of House Bill 2.

“As the owners and managers of independent bookstores, part of our mission is to provide that ‘third place,’ an additional public space other than home or work where folks can gather to discuss issues important to our community,” the letter says. “As independent bookstores providing that third place in communities across our state, we believe it is essential to be non-discriminatory, inclusive and tolerant, to promote freedom of speech and equality, and to guard against censorship and unfair treatment.”

The letter notes that many stores have seen a “real negative impact” because authors have canceled visits as they boycott the state.

The petition includes 32 bookstores from Corolla to Sylva, including the Triangle’s Quail Ridge Books, Regulator Bookshop, Flyleaf Books and McIntyre’s Fine Books. Publishers Algonquin Books and Eno Publishers also signed.

The Keep N.C. Safe Coalition, which supports House Bill 2, says it has gathered signatures from 393 business leaders, but it has released the names of only 68 – most of them small firms.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter