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 Wednesday 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 Friday banned city workers from non-essential travel to North Carolina. The city, which has a large gay and lesbian 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.
Advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights say state legislators demonized them 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.
Corporations announcing their displeasure “are shamefully bullying” state officials while many small business owners who live in North Carolina support the new legislation, North Carolina Values Coalition Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald said.
“North Carolinians should be aware of this so they have the opportunities to be consumers of companies that are congruent with their values,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat challenging McCrory this fall, opposes the law. He said Friday 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 Thursday, 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 Thursday evening. 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.
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