North Carolina’s governor just isn’t as smart as Georgia’s — at least not when it comes to understanding that approving a discriminatory law is going to be bad for business in his state.
Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal, faced with pressure from a variety of major companies that are headquartered or do business in Georgia, vetoed the anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill that had been passed by the Georgia legislature. In commenting on his veto Deal said that he could find no examples in Georgia of situations that required the law in order to protect the rights of people of faith. In North Carolina, on the other hand, Republican Governor Pat McCrory happily signed his state’s anti-LGBT law, then set about defending it. Now companies are starting to say that they aren’t interested in doing business in North Carolina.
PayPal announced on April 5 that they are cancelling a planned expansion of their company’s operations in the Charlotte area. That expansion would have created some 400 new jobs for North Carolinians. In a statement that pulled no punches, Dan Schulman, President and CEO of the company, had this to say:
Two weeks ago, PayPal announced plans to open a new global operations center in Charlotte and employ over 400 people in skilled jobs. In the short time since then, legislation has been abruptly enacted by the State of North Carolina that invalidates protections of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens and denies these members of our community equal rights under the law.
The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture. As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.
This decision reflects PayPal’s deepest values and our strong belief that every person has the right to be treated equally, and with dignity and respect. These principles of fairness, inclusion and equality are at the heart of everything we seek to achieve and stand for as a company. And they compel us to take action to oppose discrimination.
Our decision is a clear and unambiguous one. But we do regret that we will not have the opportunity to be a part of the Charlotte community and to count as colleagues the skilled and talented people of the region. As a company that is committed to the principle that everyone deserves to live without fear of discrimination simply for being who they are, becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable.
Just one day before the PayPal announcement, Lionsgate Films said that they would be moving production of a new Hulu television series from Charlotte. Instead, the company will be filming the series in Vancouver, Canada, where LGBT rights are largely protected by federal law.
These announcements come just a few days after North Carolina’s Lt. Governor Dan Forest told anti-gay “Christian” bigot, Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council that businesses were only making noise about the law to keep the LGBT community pacified. Forest said that what businesses were saying didn’t reflect their true position on the issue.
The withdrawal of PayPal and Lionsgate from the state could wind up being the least of North Carolina’s economy problems created by fallout from the law. The Obama administration has suggested that the law may cause the federal government to withhold billions of dollars in federal highway and education funds from the state.
McCrory seems to have chosen to ignore his tenuous political position by supporting the law. McCrory is only the third Republican governor of North Carolina since 1900, and only one of those two previous Republicans was reelected. He is facing a reelection battle this November against the state’s Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, and polls had the two in a virtual tie before passage of this law. Cooper has indicated that his office will not defend the new law in court. A substantial loss of jobs caused by the law could be the final nail in McCrory’s political coffin.
Featured image via Liberty Flag Poles