Photo credit: Laura Greene/The Enterprise, via Associated Press
By James B. Stewart
When North Carolina voters were considering a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2012, the silence from North Carolina companies was deafening.
“I called the top eight to 10 chief executives in the state, and half wouldn’t even take my call,” recalled Mitchell Gold, the chairman and co-founder of the furniture maker and retail chain Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams, which is based in Taylorsville, N.C. “Only a few were willing to say anything.”
And to the dismay of Mr. Mitchell and other gay rights advocates, voters approved the amendment by a margin of 20 percentage points.
Four years later, that corporate silence has turned into a roar.
Last week, North Carolina’s Legislature overruled a Charlotte ordinance protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It further barred any municipality in the state from extending protections beyond those already enumerated in state law — which notably does not shield people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, quickly signed the legislation.
This week, Bank of America — which is based in Charlotte and is not only the largest corporate employer in the state but also a major donor to state political campaigns — said it was joining with 90 other national companies to seek repeal of the law.
“Such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business,” it said in a statement.
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