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More Than 100 Major CEOs & Business Leaders Urge North Carolina To Repeal Anti-LGBT Law

by Stephen Peters March 31, 2016

This morning, HRC and Equality NC, the state organization working to secure equal rights and justice for LGBT North Carolinians, announced that executives from Starbucks, Citibank, TD Bank, Hilton, Starwood Hotels, Choice Hotels, eBay, Accenture, Kellogg Company, Reddit, Barnes & Noble, Atlassian, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Ingersoll-Rand, Wasserman and the Wasserman Foundation, and CA Technologies have signed onto an open letter that now includes more than 100 leading CEOs and business leaders calling on Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the radical provisions in the deeply discriminatory House Bill 2 that was rammed through the legislature last week.

HRC President Chad Griffin and Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro will deliver the letter this morning personally to Governor McCrory’s office. The letter -- signed by dozens of CEOs from across the nation -- was made public Tuesday afternoon, and came only a day after Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced he would veto anti-LGBT legislation in Georgia after facing a sustained outcry from a broad chorus of advocates and companies. A copy of the updated letter and its signatories can be found here and below.

"Discrimination is bad for North Carolina, bad for America, and bad for business," said HRC President Chad Griffin when announcing the open letter on Tuesday. "These business leaders are speaking out because they know this attack on lesbian, gay, bisexual and especially transgender North Carolinians isn't just morally wrong -- it also puts their employees, customers and North Carolina's economy at risk. For the sake of all North Carolinians, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly must act now to repeal this heinous attack on fairness and equality."

"North Carolina's place as a business leader in the South is based on fairness, inclusion, and diversity,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro Tuesday with the release of the open letter. “HB 2 does not represent North Carolina values, and it weakens our competitive edge. We are glad to see our business community in the Old North State standing up against discriminatory measures like this. Governor McCrory made a mess of our state last week, and our businesses are leading the charge to repair our state to a place of fairness."

On Monday, Gov. McCrory unbelievably claimed, “We have not taken away any rights that have currently existed in any city in North Carolina" -- but PolitiFact rated that claim as false. H.B. 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in state buildings, including in public universities.  Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session last Wednesday, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year -- including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies, at risk. This section of House Bill 2 offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law -- plus doing the right thing for their students -- or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights. Read more about how this bill puts federal funding at risk here.

The full letter to Governor McCrory and list of signatories is below:

Dear Governor McCrory,

We write with concerns about legislation you signed into law last week, HB 2, which has overturned protections for LGBT people and sanctioned discrimination across North Carolina. Put simply, HB 2 is not a bill that reflects the values of our companies, of our country, or even the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians.

We are disappointed in your decision to sign this discriminatory legislation into law. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development. We believe that HB 2 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the nation. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.

Discrimination is wrong and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you and the leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeal this law in the upcoming legislative session.


Karen Appleton, Senior Vice President, Box
Brandee Barker, Cofounder, The Pramana Collective
Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce
Chip Bergh, President and CEO, Levi Strauss & Co.
Michael Birch, Founder, Blab
Ed Black, President and CEO, Computer & Communications Industry Association
Nathan Blecharczyk, Cofounder and CTO, Airbnb
Steven R. Boal, CEO, Quotient Technology Inc.
Ron Boire, CEO, Barnes and Noble
Lorna Borenstein, CEO, Grokker
Brad Brinegar, Chairman and CEO, McKinney
John Bryant, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kellogg Company
Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, co-CEOs, Atlassian
Lloyd Carney, CEO, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.
Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb
Ron Conway, Founder and Co-Managing Partner, SV Angel
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
Dean Debnam, Chairman and CEO, Workplace Options
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Square and Twitter
David Ebersman, Cofounder and CEO, Lyra Health
Jared Fliesler, General Partner, Matrix Partners
Vice Forlenza, Chairman, CEO and President, BD
Joe Gebbia, Cofounder and Chief Product Officer, Airbnb
Jason Goldberg, CEO, Pepo
Alan King, President and COO, Workplace Options
Kristen Koh Goldstein, CEO, BackOps
Mitchell Gold, co-founder and chair-man, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
John H. Graham IV, President and CEO, American Society of Association Executives
Logan Green, CEO, Lyft
Mike Gregoire, CEO, CA Technologies
Paul Graham, Founder, Y Combinator
David Hassell, CEO, 15Five
Charles H. Hill III, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources, Pfizer Inc.
Reid Hoffman, Chairman, LinkedIn
Robert Hohman, Cofounder & CEO, Glassdoor
Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox
William H. Howle, President of U.S. Retail Banking Group, Citibank
Steve Huffman, CEO, Reddit
Chad Hurley, Cofounder, YouTube
Dave Imre, Partner and CEO, IMRE
Dev Ittycheria, President & CEO, MongoDB
Laurene Powell Jobs, President, Emerson Collective
Cecily Joseph, VP Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer, Symantec Corporation
Steve Joyce, CEO, Choice Hotels International
Travis Kalanick, CEO, Uber
David Karp, Founder and CEO, Tumblr
Travis Katz, Founder and CEO, Gogobot
Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel         
Joshua Kushner, Managing Partner, Thrive Capital
Michael W. Lamach, Chairman and CEO, Ingersoll-Rand plc
Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm
Dion Lim, CEO, NextLesson
Shan-lyn Ma, CEO, Zola
Tom Mangas, CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
Bill Maris, CEO, Google Ventures
Marissa Mayer, President and CEO, Yahoo
Melody McCloskey, CEO, StyleSeat
Douglas Merrill, CEO, Zestfinance
Dyke Messinger, President and CEO, Power Curbers Inc.
Brian Moynihan, CEO, Bank of AmericaHari Nair, Vice President and General Manager, &
Christopher J. Nassetta, President & Chief Executive Officer, Hilton Worldwide
Michael Natenshon, CEO, Marine Layer
Alexi G. Nazem, Cofounder and CEO, Nomad Health
Laurie J. Olson, EVP, Strategy, Portfolio and Commercial Operations, Pfizer Inc.
Bob Page, Founder and CEO, Replacements, Ltd.
Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO, American Airlines
Mike Pedersen, CEO and President, TD Bank, N.A.
Michelle Peluso, Strategic Advisor and former CEO, Gilt
Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google
Mark Pincus, Founder and Executive Chairman, Zynga
Hosain Rahman, CEO, Jawbone
Bill Ready, CEO, Braintree
Evan Reece, CEO, Liftopia
Stan Reiss, General Partner, Matrix Partners
John Replogle, CEO, Seventh Generation
Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco Systems
Virginia M. Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM Corporation
Dan Rosensweig, CEO, Chegg
Kevin P. Ryan, Founder and Chairman, Alleycorp
Bijan Sabet, General Partner, Spark Capital
Julie Samuels, President, Engine
George A. Scangos, PhD, CEO, Biogen
Steve Schoch, CEO, Miramax
Dan Schulman, President and CEO, PayPal
Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO, Starbucks
Adam Shankman, Director and Producer
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
David A. Shaywitz, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, DNAnexus
Behshad Sheldon, President and CEO, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals
Ben Silbermann, CEO, Pinterest
Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft
Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International
David Spector, Cofounder, ThirdLoveJeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp
John G. Stumpf, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Wells Fargo & Company
Julie Sweet, Group Chief Executive North America, Accenture
Bret Taylor, CEO, Quip
Todd Thibodeaux, CEO, CompTIA
David Tisch, Managing Partner, BoxGroup
Nirav Tolia, Cofounder and CEO, Nextdoor
Kevin A. Trapani, President and CEO, The Redwood Groups
Mark Trudeau, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals
Ken Wasch, President, Software & Information Industry Association
Casey Wasserman, Chairman and CEO of Wasserman & President and CEO of the Wasserman Foundation
Bob & Harvey Weinstein, Co-Founders and Co-Chairmen, The Weinstein Company
Devin Wenig, CEO, eBay
Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO, Facebook

Stephen Peters
Stephen Peters


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