Dozens of multinational corporations are pressuring North Carolina's state government to undo a "privacy" law, passed through the legislature last week, that will prohibit transgender people from using the public restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign publicized a letter signed by more than 80 CEOs from companies such as Facebook, Google, and Apple, calling for a repeal of the law, known as House Bill 2.
That same day, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said he would refuse to defend the constitutionality of the law in court.
The salvo from corporate America echoes a number of other interventions in state-level, anti-LGBT policymaking over the past few years. Last year, after Indiana passed a "religious freedom" bill offering protections to business owners who refuse to serve LGBT consumers, companies from Apple to Marriott International made public their opposition. Even Walmart, a corporation that donates slightly more to Republicans, registered its opposition to a similar "religious freedom" law in Arkansas, where the company is headquartered.
Of course, not all major businesses stand uniformly in opposition to such legislation. Nationwide, there's the famous case of Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chain that has financed anti-LGBT groups through a foundation. And in North Carolina, there's the case of regional department store magnate Art Pope.
Pope has spent more than $55 million shepherding North Carolina's transformation from a purple state to a deep red one. He has close ties to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed House Bill 2, and has served as the governor's budget director. Although Pope appears to have kept a low profile during the recent debate over transgender bathroom rights, the Institute for Southern Studies notes that he has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the North Carolina Policy Council, a religious conservative group that supports the bill.
McCrory, for his part, has been unyielding in his support of the law and has called on the state's attorney general to "fulfill his oath of office to defend the people of North Carolina" — and, by extension, House Bill 2.
The law goes into effect on Friday.