Because of new transgender law, drug maker reconsidering $20 million North Carolina factory

Leaders of many economic sectors signed onto the letter. Tourism is represented by Hilton, Marriott and Starwood hotels; AirBnB, Uber and Lyft; and American Airlines, which has a major hub in Charlotte, the state’s largest city. Banking and finance executives include the leaders of Bank of America, Citibank, TD Bank, PayPal, and others. Restaurateurs and retailers include leaders of Starbucks, Barnes & Noble and Levi Strauss; and technology executives joined in force, including the leaders of IBM, Apple, Intel, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay, Twitter, YouTube, and many others.

The new law “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,” the letter said.

Bank of America is the biggest of only a handful of North Carolina-based companies to sign on to the repeal letter. The country’s largest electric company, Duke Energy Corp., doesn’t take a position on social issues, spokesman Tom Williams said. Duke Energy’s anti-discrimination policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity along with race, religion and ethnicity, he said.

The state’s Chamber of Commerce has not expressed a position on the law, which includes provisions some companies may appreciate, including a prohibition against local requirements that businesses to pay more than the state’s minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, and an effective ban on employment discrimination lawsuits in state courts.

When Indiana adopted a “religious freedom” law, that state’s business chamber was among the most vocal opponents, joining an outcry that forced the legislature and governor to revise the law. The state’s tourism group, Visit Indy, estimates a $60 million loss in net state revenue after 12 different convention groups cited the religious objections law as part of the reason they took events elsewhere.

But the spokeswoman for the North Carolina chamber, Kate Catlin, would not describe any feedback from its members, or explain why the business lobby has not taken a position.

Companies like the prospect of avoiding baseless lawsuits, but won’t say so at the risk of being misconstrued as wanting to discriminate, said Hans Bader, a lawyer with the anti-regulatory Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is tracking a lawsuit challenging the North Carolina law.

“A silent majority of North Carolina businesses may well approve of North Carolina’s new law,” Bader said. A company “is not going to say so publicly, since that could lead to angry demonstrators picketing or surrounding its headquarters or places of business.”

Corporations opposing the law may be expressing core corporate values, but they also need to be perceived favorably by customers, especially affluent gay ones, and to motivate highly educated, high-value employees who value diversity, said Peterson, who wrote a guidebook for global companies who want to expand LGBT inclusion.

When this gay college basketball player was raped, it changed him forever. Now, he’s coming out.

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