Technology giants Apple, Google and Facebook are among a dozen big companies or their top executives objecting to a North Carolina law that bars municipalities from adopting their own anti-discrimination ordinances.
Facebook, Google and Apple each run massive data-processing complexes in western North Carolina.
They joined American Airlines, IBM and others in reacting to a state law quickly adopted on March 23 that blocked local government measures to counter discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people.
None of the high-profile companies have threatened to immediately withdraw business from North Carolina.
San Francisco’s mayor on March 25 banned city workers from non-essential travel to North Carolina. The city, which has a large LGBT population, “will not subsidize legally sanctioned discrimination,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement.
The Charlotte ordinance would have enabled transgender people to legally use restrooms aligned with their gender identity and would have provided broad protections against discrimination in public accommodations in the state’s largest city.
North Carolina is the first state to require public school and university students to use only those bathrooms that match their birth certificates, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.
Civil rights advocates say state legislators demonized LGBT people with bogus claims about bathroom risks. Supporters say the new law protects all people from having to share bathrooms with people who make them feel unsafe.
Support for the law
Some other businesses have voiced support for the measure Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law, a spokesman for his re-election campaign said. Spokesman Ricky Diaz did not respond when asked which businesses backed the governor’s decision.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat challenging McCrory this fall, opposes the law.
He said he’s worried actions by the GOP-led legislature and the governor could harm the state’s chances to land or keep sporting events such as the NCAA basketball tournament and the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte in 2017. Both organizations released statements about the law on March 24, but stopped short of saying they would not hold the events in the city.
“Not only is it wrong to discriminate, but we should not be putting our economy in jeopardy,” Cooper told 99.9 The Fan, a Raleigh-area radio station, calling the actions creating the law “a national embarrassment.”
McCrory and his allies have blamed Cooper for failing to intervene before the General Assembly did to stop Charlotte’s ordinance. McCrory said Thursday that Cooper has “lost touch” with the privacy norms the public expects while using a restroom or locker room.
About 200 protesters blocked a downtown Raleigh street in front of the state’s Executive Mansion on March 24. Police said in a statement that five people were arrested after they sat down in the street and refused orders to disperse.
McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, stays in the mansion while in the state capital but was not there at the time of the protest, spokesman Josh Ellis said.
Breaking today in North Carolina
LGBT civil rights groups were preparing on March 28 to announce a legal challenge to the North Carolina law. The lawsuit is being filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on behalf of several organizations and individuals who will be harmed by the law.