North Carolina business leaders demand repeal of transgender law

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 19, 2016 4:04 PM

By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - North Carolina business leaders on Tuesday called for a repeal of a new state law they blamed for mounting economic losses as opponents cancel jobs and events over concerns that it discriminates against gay and transgender people.

The state last month became the first to require transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms in schools and other public facilities that match their sex at birth rather than their gender identity.

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce said the law, which also prohibits local governments from enacting anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, had hurt business growth and the state's reputation.

"This legislation is bad for business and bad for North Carolina," the chamber said in a statement.

The group estimated tens of millions of dollars in losses since the law passed, including decisions by PayPal Holdings and Deutsche Bank to halt adding a combined 650 jobs in the state and canceled performances by Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Pearl Jam, Boston and Cirque du Soleil.

An unnamed technology company canceled expansion plans that could have brought up to 1,000 new jobs to the Raleigh area and several other companies had eliminated the region from consideration due to the law, the chamber said.

North Carolina Republicans have struck a defiant tone. The law's backers say it is meant to protect privacy rights and keep children and women safe from sexual predators and so far have shown no signs of being swayed by the growing pressure from the business and entertainment communities.

"North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children," Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest told Reuters in an e-mail on Tuesday. "They are precious and priceless. If a corporation wanting to do business in North Carolina does not see the worth of our children in the same light, then I wish them well as they do business somewhere else."

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Sandra Maler)