Gov. Pat McCrory met briefly Thursday with three leaders of LGBT advocacy groups who asked him to repeal a new law dealing with discrimination issues. He’s said he’ll consider ideas to “make this bill better.”
Representatives of Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina came to the Capitol building to deliver a letter signed by more than 100 businesses, including Wells Fargo, Facebook, Apple, Citibank, Bank of America, American Airlines and Starbucks.
The CEOs are upset that the new law replaces local ordinances with a statewide nondiscrimination law that doesn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories.
As more companies were added to the letter, New Jersey-based Braeburn Pharmaceuticals announced Thursday afternoon that it’s “reevaluating” its plan to locate a $20 million, 52-job manufacturing facility in Durham County. The company issued a statement saying it’s “extremely disappointed” with the new law.
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The House Bill 2 opponents were greeted by McCrory’s chief of staff, Thomas Stith, who allowed three representatives to meet with the governor in his office. One of them was a transgender woman, Candis Cox.
Media was not allowed to attend the meeting, and the three who participated wouldn’t say what McCrory told them in response to their demands.
“I’m optimistic because it’s the story that’s happened in so many other states with so many other governors: That if this governor and these legislative leaders will actually sit down and listen to North Carolinians who are negatively impacted and harmed by this bill, they’ll rethink it and they’ll agree with us,” said Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign.
McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis issued a statement in response to questions about the meeting. “Gov. McCrory appreciated the opportunity to sit down and deal with these complex issues through conversation and dialogue as opposed to political threats and economic retaliation,” Ellis said.
Griffin said the 100 businesses signing the repeal request represents an unprecedented level of support for LGBT rights.
“Never in the history of our movement have we seen this broad a coalition come together,” he said.
Chris Sgro of Equality NC said McCrory should have taken more time to review the bill instead of signing it on the same day it was made public. At a news conference on Monday, McCrory told a reporter he was being “blindsided” by a question about how the law affects specific city ordinances.
“Gov. McCrory made a mess of our state,” Sgro said. “Gov. McCrory failed to do his job. He never evaluated the impacts of House Bill 2.”
Supporters of the new law held prayer vigils Thursday evening at the governor’s mansion as well as locations in Greenville, New Bern and Fayetteville.
More than 100 people attended the Raleigh vigil, praying in small groups from a script provided by event organizers. Christian radio host Steve Noble of Called2Action said it’s important to back elected leaders with prayer.
“I think perhaps in Georgia we didn’t pray hard enough, and the governor backed down,” he said, referring to a similar law that was vetoed by the state’s Republican governor. “We’re praying to protect the women and men in our society.”
Gov. Pat McCrory appeared on the Fox News Channel Thursday to defend the law, focusing on the provision that overturns a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.
“It’s basic common sense,” McCrory said. “It’s the etiquette of privacy that we’ve had for decades. It’s amazing that the national politically correct police have descended on my state and unfairly smeared my state.”