Pressure mounting on North Carolina over controversial discrimination law
RALEIGH, N.C. — The CEO of PepsiCo, Inc., has joined the growing list of company heads and municipal officials voicing opposing to North Carolina’s new law that prevents specific anti-discrimination rules for LGBT people for public accommodations and restroom use.
The Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina released Friday the names of another 10 company executives that have signed on to a letter criticizing the law and seeking its repeal, bringing the number of names to more than 120. New executives include those from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Qualcomm and EMC Corp.
The law, approved by the Republican legislature and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, responded to a Charlotte City Council ordinance approved in February that would have extended protections to gays and lesbians as well as bisexual and transgender people while at hotels, restaurants and stores. Charlotte also would have allowed transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity.
Also on Friday, Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi sent a letter to McCrory calling on him to consider repealing the measure when the General Assembly convenes in Raleigh later this month.
Nooyi said she was taken aback by the law as well as McCrory’s decision to sign it so quickly. She said the measure is “completely inconsistent” with the way her company treats its workers, and that it undermines efforts to advance North Carolina’s long-term interests.
Pepsi-Cola traces its roots to North Carolina, where it was created in the late 1890s by New Bern pharmacist Caleb Bradham. PepsiCo’s annual shareholder meetings have been held in New Bern in the past several years.
Separately Friday, the venture capital arm of Google’s parent corporation confirmed it won’t invest in North Carolina startup businesses while the law is in place. GV spokeswoman Jodi Olson cited written comments by CEO Bill Maris in which he asked his firm’s partners to flag possible North Carolina investments because he’s “not comfortable deploying dollars into startups there until the voters there fix this.” The move was first reported by Re/code, a tech-focused news site.
The new law blocked Charlotte’s rules and prevented other local governments from approving similar ordinances. And government agencies of all kinds must now require people who use multi-stall public restrooms to use the one that corresponds with their biological sex.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and Boston’s city council also this week banned government-connected travel to North Carolina as a sign of opposition to the law. Similar travel bans have been issued by the governors of Washington, New York and Connecticut and by other cities.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter on Saturday banning state employees from nonessential travel to North Carolina because of the law. He directed all state workers to stop all nonessential travel to North Carolina for conferences or other official state business until further notice.
NCAA President Mark Emmert says he has spoken to North Carolina’s governor about the state’s new law excluding LGBT people from antidiscrimination protections, making clear if it remains in place it will affect the state’s chances to host major college athletic events.
A rally was held early Friday night in front of the Legislative Building to support transgender people and to oppose the law. Supporters of the new law held prayer vigils Thursday night in multiple locations in eastern North Carolina. One was held across from the Executive Mansion, where McCrory lives.
Supporters of the law say hundreds of businesses support the law and have signed on to their own letter praising McCrory and the legislature.
McCrory and a key lawmaker this week suggested some changes are possible to the law. But Senate leader Phil Berger, has no appetite for them because “an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians we’ve heard from support” the law, spokeswoman Shelly Carver said in a release. The General Assembly reconvenes April 25.