Why Is Big Business Watching From Sidelines on Amendment One?

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com May 01 2012 3:02 PM ET

Something is keeping a number of influential players in North Carolina on the sidelines as voters prepare to head to the polls this month to decide on Amendment One.

Many of the state’s biggest businesses have kept quiet, CBS reports, unlike in campaigns in Washington or New York. In those states, legislators passed marriage equality bills after a long list of the most prominent employers sided with same-sex marriage supporters. In New York alone, the Human Rights Campaign could easily list more than 100 big and small businesses that had lent their voice or money.

But big brands such as the North Face, Nautica, and Lee jeans that are based in North Carolina haven't said anything. Charlotte is home to many of the nation's biggest banks. An executive from Bank of America made headlines by opposing the proposed anti-marriage equality amendment, but the bank itself and all of the others have stayed out of the fight.

Duke Energy's CEO, Jim Rogers, has gone much further than most in his condemnation of the amendment as bad for business. It’s an argument once made by Chris Hughes (pictured), the North Carolinian who helped found Facebook and who now owns The New Republic. But while Hughes once told lawmakers the amendment was “bad for business,” he is now being criticized by LGBT activists for opting against donating to a campaign to fight Amendment One at the ballot box.

The Washington Blade reports that Hughes is reacting to polls that show Amendment One will pass in North Carolina. Activists point out that polls are tightening, and a recent round of new advertising could help further.

Adam Bink, director of online programs for the Courage Campaign, addressed Hughes directly in the Blade article: “It’s disappointing that he’s given up when, with polls the closest in history and an outpouring of support today online from people who work hard to make ends meet, he couldn’t be bothered to give.”