The tech world is speaking out against discrimination. Top executives from more than 80 U.S. digital technology, communications, entertainment, finance, and hospitality companies signed a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) petition to North Carolina Governor McCrory to repeal a recent NC law that discriminates against LGBT people. House Bill 2, widely referred to as the “transgender law” is seen as discriminatory not only to the LGBT community but to all protected classes.
On March 23 Governor McCrory signed House Bill 2, the full title of which is “AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR SINGLE-SEX MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY BATHROOM AND CHANGING FACILITIES IN SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC AGENCIES AND TO CREATE STATEWIDE CONSISTENCY IN REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT AND PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS.” Single-sex is defined in the law as “Biological sex. – The physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.” House Bill 2 also preempts local governments from enacting any law or regulations that restrict discrimination based on biological sex or any other protected class.
The bill was prompted by a Charlotte, NC ordinance that prohibited discrimination against transgender people and allowed them access to public bathrooms of their identified gender. In other words, someone born as a biological male who identified as female would have to be accommodated and allowed to use female bathrooms. Members of the North Carolina state legislature were bothered by the thought that people would have the right to use bathrooms of their gender identity. Some of the proponents of the bill expressed fears that men would be able to go freely into bathrooms reserved for women and little girls.
The legislature immediately rushed a bill to a special session to prohibit local rules, laws, or policies that would prohibit discrimination by sexual identity. The bill also reserves for state mandate any ordinances or policies that restrict discrimination — taking control for discrimination away from local governments for all protected classes. The bill has disturbed many both for its discrimination against LGBT persons and also for mandating that only the state can rule on discrimination issues.
The industry executives who signed the petition represent the most powerful tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Intel, and many others. The petition declares their disappointment that such a discriminatory law was enacted and that the law does not represent the values of the signers’ companies nor of the country.
The petition states that the business community has consistently come out against discriminatory laws as harmful to employees and bad for business. Difficulties with recruiting and retaining employees and attracting students to the state will ensue from the law, according to the signers. Ramifications for North Carolina tourism as well as threats to overall economic conditions and the state’s ability to attract new business are also predicted should the law remain in place.
The Human Rights Campaign petition from tech industry giants and others comes in the same week the Governer of Georgia vetoed a similar law after pressure from large business entities and the North Carolina Attorney General stated he will not defend the transgender law. The tech companies don’t like the law and are pooling their joint influence to have it go away.