UPDATED: Governor seeks to restore right to sue over discrimination, but won’t challenge bathroom rule
RALEIGH (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday he wants to change a new state law that prevents people from suing over discrimination in state court, but he’s not challenging a measure regarding bathroom access for transgender people.
His announcement comes as fallout widens over the law he signed last month that would limit protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people.
McCrory said he’s using an executive order to expand the state equal employment policy to include sexual orientation and gender, as well as affirming private businesses’ rights to establish their own bathroom policies.
He also says he will ask lawmakers to file legislation later this month allowing people to sue in state court over discrimination. That right had been wiped out by the law.
But the statement said that his order will maintain gender-specific restroom and locker room access in government buildings and schools. He once again condemned a Charlotte ordinance passed earlier this year that allowed transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity, calling it “a solution in search of a problem.”
The state law was passed partly in response to the Charlotte measure.
But it went further than repealing the Charlotte law by overruling LGBT antidiscrimination measures passed by local governments around the state. It also excluded sexual orientation and gender identity from the state’s antidiscrimination policy. The law also required transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate.
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McCrory acknowledged outcry over the law, saying he’d listened to “feedback” from people for several weeks.
He said that “based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”
His announcement came hours after Deutsche Bank announced that it’s halting plans to add 250 jobs in North Carolina because of the law.
The German bank with a large U.S. presence adds another loud voice to a chorus of business leaders who have urged the repeal of the law by Republican leaders who promote the state as business-friendly.
Previously, the bank had planned to add the jobs through next year in Cary. But on Tuesday the bank said it was freezing those plans.
Co-executive officer John Cryan said in a news release that “as a result of this legislation we are unwilling to include North Carolina in our US expansion plans for now.”
He said the bank may revisit the plans later. The bank currently employs 900 people at a Cary software development center, and it said it plans to sustain that existing operation.
Previously, PayPal reversed plans to open a 400-employee operation center in Charlotte, and more than 130 corporate CEOs signed a letter urging the law’s repeal. A number of states and cities have restricted public employee travel to the state.
This week, the law prompted several more groups to cancel planned conventions or gatherings in the state.
Ryan Smith, a spokeswoman for the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, said five groups totaling about 1,000 attendees have already canceled. She said in an email the canceled events would have brought $730,000 to the area.
Smith said another 16 groups are considering cancellations of events expected to have an impact of $24 million.
The B Lab, a group organizing a gathering for socially conscious companies, says that it’s relocating the event that was expected to bring 550 attendees to Durham in October. Certified B Corporations are for-profit but meet strict criteria for social and environmental responsibility.
Charlotte tourism officials have previously said that several events were canceled around that city.
Some major music acts have also responded to the law. Bruce Springsteen canceled a Greensboro show over the weekend because of it.
Jimmy Buffett, meanwhile, said that he considers the law “stupid” but will proceed with scheduled shows in Raleigh and Charlotte this month. He said future dates would depend on whether the law is repealed.
Buffett wrote on his blog that tickets to his shows sold out long before the law was enacted. “I am not going to let stupidity or bigotry trump fun for my loyal fans this year,” he said.
Supporters of the law on Monday held their biggest rally yet, drawing several hundred supporters.
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