The growing backlash to North Carolina’s sweeping new anti-LGBT law, known as House Bill 2, may finally be hitting the pockets of the Tar Heel State.
This morning, electronic payment giant PayPal announced that it has canceled plans to open a new global payment center in Charlotte, which was expected to bring 400 new jobs to the city, reports the Associated Press.
The AP notes that Republican Gov. Pat McCrory had celebrated PayPal's scheduled expansion just days before he signed the law that repeals LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination protections statewide and requires transgender people to use public facilities (like bathrooms and locker rooms) that do not match their gender identity.
“The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” said PayPal in a statement posted today by CEO Dan Schulman. “As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.”
The statement continued:
"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.”
PayPal indicated that “our decision is a clear and unambiguous one,” while the AP framed PayPal’s canceled expansion as “the biggest tangible economic backlash to a state law that more than 100 corporations have decried as unfair.”
The company said it will seek another location for its new operations center and promised to continue working with the LGBT community in North Carolina to overturn the sweeping law. But “becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable,” the statement said.
The company has previously spoken out against HB 2, denouncing the law shortly after it passed during a single day-long special legislative session on March 23, while PayPal president CEO Schulman joined more than 90 other CEOs in the tech and entertainment fields signing on to a letter urging the state’s Republican governor to repeal the law.
Although McCrory's office did not respond immediately to the AP's request for comment, he has consistently defended the law as one protecting the "privacy" and "safety" of North Carolinians, especially women and children. The state's attorney general, Democrat Roy Cooper, is challenging McCrory in the upcoming gubernatorial election, and has refused to defend the law in court. That prompted anti-LGBT legal nonprofit Liberty Counsel, which represented defiant antigay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and a host of other anti-LGBT activists, to offer to represent McCrory and the state's Republican leadership pro-bono in a federal lawsuit alleging HB 2 is unconstitutional.
The law was drafted in response to a Charlotte ordinance that sought to guarantee equal access for transgender people to public restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity. McCrory, however, has continued to peddle the false, transphobic claim that such LGBT-inclusive policies laws allow sexual predators to gain access to women’s restrooms.
In reality, while more than 200 localities nationwide have similar, trans-inclusive laws on the books, there has never been a single verified report of a transgender person assaulting a cisgender (nontrans) person in a restroom, nor have there been any instances of someone “pretending” to be transgender to gain access to sex-segregated spaces for nefarious purposes. By contrast, however, transgender people face a much higher risk of being the victims of physical and verbal assault in sex-segregated spaces, compared to their cisgender peers.