Updated: Hits Over HB2 Keep Coming; Maroon 5 Cancels; Trade Associations Say Law Hurting Business

Mar 25, 2016

Updated: 5/21

(Associated Press)

The pop group Maroon 5 has joined the list of entertainers canceling appearances in North Carolina because of the passage of legislation that denies anti-discrimination protections and dictates which restrooms transgender people can use.

The members said they won't appear Sept. 11 at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte or Sept. 12 at PNC Arena in Raleigh. The band announced on its website Friday that its members feel canceling "is morally right as we feel everyone should be treated equally."

Other major performers pulling out of North Carolina include Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Pearl Jam, Itzhak Perlman and Ringo Starr.

Maroon 5 is led by Adam Levine, who doubles as a celebrity musician-coach on NBC's "The Voice."

More than a dozen trade associations have written North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory telling him the law is causing business to rethink locating and operating in the state.

The letter from the National Association of Manufacturers and others says dictating what bathrooms transgender people can use also could prevent businesses from hiring talented LGBT workers and skilled young people who might be offended by the law.

The letter asks McCrory and lawmakers to consider changing or repealing the law passed earlier this year.

The legality of the measure in now in the courts, and McCrory says he plans to let the federal courts decide if the law stands.

The conflict over HB2 led the authors of an opera to hold a performance inside the building where the law got approved.

Several dozen people attended a concert Thursday in the Legislative Building for a version of "The Body Politic," which premiered this month in Boston. The lead character is a transgender man who moves from Afghanistan to North Carolina and encounters a diverse array of people.

Writers Leo Hurley and Charles Osborne attended college in North Carolina and decided the opera's message of breaking down barriers was something legislators needed to hear. They invited all of them but only one legislator attended. Lawmakers had completed their work for the week hours before.

The full state House voted on more than two dozen amendments while passing their version of the North Carolina government budget this week. Items that didn't get to the floor for debate would have repealed House Bill 2 and canceled an agreement to build lanes on Interstate 77 north of Charlotte.

Speaker Tim Moore ruled both amendments out of order because they didn't comply with House rules. He said Thursday an amendment by Rep. Darren Jackson of Raleigh to repeal the law LGBT law wasn't relevant to the budget. Jackson says he's optimistic the bill will still be debated and voted on this year.

Updated: 5/18

(Associated Press)

Violinist Itzhak Perlman has become the latest in a series of renowned musicians to cancel a North Carolina performance in protest of the state's new law limiting antidiscrimination policies for LGBT people.

Perlman canceled his May 18 performance in Raleigh in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Perlman was scheduled to perform with the North Carolina Symphony at the Meymandi Concert Hall.

In the post, Perlman says he has spent a lifetime opposing discrimination toward those with physical disabilities and as a vocal advocate of treating all people equally. When he was a child, Perlman contracted polio, and learned to walk using crutches.

Perlman says he canceled his performance  after he was told he would not be able to include a personal statement opposing a new state law in the event program.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Perlman said he will not perform in North Carolina until the state's law limiting antidiscrimination policies for LGBT people is reversed.

Perlman had said he wanted to proceed with the concert to support the 66 professional musicians employed by the North Carolina Symphony but reversed the decision Tuesday after orchestra management told him he would not be able to include his opposition to the law in the event program.

Symphony spokeswoman Linda Charlton said as a state-sponsored, nonpartisan organization, symphony performances are not an appropriate forum for political commentary.

Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and the rock group Boston are among other musical performers who have canceled their shows due to the law.

Pop star Elton John is taking Gov. Pat McCrory to task for signing House Bill 2.

Writing for a blog posted Tuesday on The Hill , John wrote that the law is discriminatory and the state is wasting millions of dollars to defend it. He writes that's what worse is McCrory signed the bill after saying he had never met a transgender person.

The governor took that statement back, but John says he sent the clear message that the experiences of transgender people have no place in a debate about their rights. McCrory did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 69-year-old John and his husband have two children. John writes that he wants his children's world to be free of hateful legislation like North Carolina's.

Representatives from a North Carolina LGBT advocacy organization say the state's new law limiting antidiscrimination policies is drawing more people out of their homes and to lawmakers' offices.

About 70 people participated in advocacy training sessions hosted by Equality NC at the Legislative Building on Tuesday.

The all-day group sessions focused on informing participants about the wide-ranging law and giving them resources to urge lawmakers to repeal the law.

The organization's communications director Ben Graumann says Tuesday's attendance was nearly double that of previous training sessions as people search for ways to oppose the law directing transgender people to use public bathrooms aligned with the sex on their birth certificate.

Participant Joey Honeycutt of Carrboro says the group training emphasized the importance of sharing personal stories with legislators.

A drug-maker that spent six weeks deciding whether to scrap plans for a new North Carolina factory after the state passed a law limiting LBGT protections says it's going ahead.

New Jersey-based Braeburn Pharmaceuticals said Tuesday it will build a $20 million manufacturing and research center in Durham County. The 50 new jobs paying an average of nearly $76,000 a year were announced just before state officials passed House Bill 2 in March. Braeburn said the law caused it to re-evaluate.

The company said in a news release it expects legal challenges will overturn the law.

The bill created a state anti-discrimination law that excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The law also requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificates.

The American Civil Liberties Union wants a federal judge to keep authorities from enforcing North Carolina's law requiring transgender people to use public restrooms and showers corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.

The group made that request in court papers filed Monday. The ACLU's lawsuit is one of several challenging the legislation, passed in reaction to a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

Gov. Pat McCrory sued the U.S. Justice Department last week, arguing that the state law is a "commonsense privacy policy" and that the Justice Department's position is "baseless and blatant overreach."

The government responded with its own lawsuit, saying the law amounts to "state-sponsored discrimination" and is aimed at "a problem that doesn't exist." The Justice Department is also seeking a court order declaring the law discriminatory and unenforceable.

The a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock is protesting North Carolina's law addressing LGBT rights and bathroom use by transgender people during its concerts in the state this weekend.

The group performed as scheduled but protested in song at the Paramount Theatre in Goldsboro, North Carolina, on Friday, and plans to again at the High Point Theatre in High Point, North Carolina, on Saturday night.

The long-running African-American female performance group was founded in 1973 and has been nominated for several Grammy Awards.

Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Blue Man Group, Cirque du Soleil, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato have all cancelled performances in North Carolina since the law was passed in March.

Six North Carolina congressmen are joining 72 of their colleagues in a letter to the federal government demanding details about a directive ordering public school to allow transgender students to choose which bathrooms and locker rooms they use.

The letter written Thursday asks the U.S. Education Department and Attorney General how schools and districts will be punished if they or teachers or volunteers don't comply with this month's order.

It also asks the government to explain why it is OK making other students feel uncomfortable by allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity.

The letter requests a reply by May 30.

The six North Carolina congressmen are George Holding, Walter Jones, Mark Meadows, Robert Pittenger, David Rouzer and Mark Walker.

A group of clergy members representing a number of denominations is planning to hold a rally at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Charlotte to call for the repeal of North Carolina's House Bill 2.

The group organizing the rally says more than 400 clergy members will take part in Thursday's event, including 100 from North Carolina.

The law passed in late March limits protections for LGBT residents and prevents transgender people from using public restrooms of the gender they identify with.

A news release from Faith in Public Life said the law divides congregations, the state and country and that the coalition of clergy is morally opposed to it.

Updated:  5/9

(Associated Press)

4:45 p.m.

North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's Democratic election rival in November says McCrory "is pouring gas on the fire that he lit" when he signed a state law limiting LGBT anti-discrimination protections.

In a video, state Attorney General Roy Cooper said McCrory is putting billions of dollars in federal funds at risk by suing Monday the U.S. Justice Department, which last week demanded that the governor not enforce what's known as House Bill 2.

Cooper already has refused to defend the law in court, calling it discriminatory and an embarrassment to North Carolina, and wants it repealed. McCrory and his campaign have criticized Cooper for failing to do his job as attorney general.

The campaign between McCrory and Cooper is expected to be one of the most competitive and expensive races this year.

___

4:20 p.m.

North Carolina's legislative leaders have filed their own complaint over the state's new law limiting which public restrooms transgender people can use.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger sued Monday, several hours after Gov. Pat McCrory's administration filed a similar complaint. Their lawsuit asks a judge to rule that the law does not violate federal civil rights law.

McCrory's filing in eastern North Carolina federal court focused on allegations by the U.S. Justice Department that the law violated rules protecting government employees from discrimination based on sex.

Lawyers for Berger and Moore wrote the Justice Department's demands that transgender people use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity are unworkable and ideologically extreme. They wrote it would create an opportunity for sexual predators to abuse the policy and enter women's bathrooms.

___

4 p.m.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch says North Carolina's law restricting restroom access for transgender people amounts to "state-sponsored discrimination."

Lynch spoke during a news conference Monday announcing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state and against Gov. Pat McCrory. She says the law only serves to "harm innocent Americans."

The Justice Department lawsuit says the law has caused transgender people to suffer "emotional harm, mental anguish, distress, humiliation, and indignity." It seeks an order that would prevent the law's enforcement.

McCrory has filed his own lawsuit over the law, asking a judge to keep it in place.

The governor says his lawsuit asks a federal court to clarify what the law actually says with billions in federal aid at stake.

___

3:45 p.m.

The U.S. Justice Department has sued North Carolina over its law restricting the use of public restrooms by transgender people.

The lawsuit was filed Monday just hours after Gov. Pat McCrory filed his own lawsuit over the law. McCrory wants the sweeping law, which limits protections for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people, kept in place.

McCrory says his lawsuit asks a federal court to clarify what the law actually says with billions in federal aid at stake.

The Justice Department lawsuit seeks a court order declaring that the law's provisions that apply to multiple-occupancy bathrooms or changing facilities "discriminate on the basis of sex."

___

2 p.m.

The White House is calling a North Carolina law that limits protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people "mean-spirited" and "inconsistent with the values of fairness and equality and justice."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest restated President Barack Obama's opposition to the law on Monday amid an intensifying showdown between the U.S. Justice Department and the state.

The Justice Department said last week the law violated the civil rights of transgender people. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has filed a lawsuit seeking to keep the law in place.

Earnest says the Justice Department's action was taken "independent of any sort of political interference or direction from the White House."

He said the administration continued to conduct a separate review of whether agencies might cut funding to the state in response to the law.

___

1:15 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says Congress should "bring clarity" to the nation's anti-discrimination laws.

McCrory made the remarks during a Monday news conference hours after his administration sued the U.S. Justice Department over a state law that restricts the use of public restrooms by transgender people.

The sweeping law also limits protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and has been widely criticized. McCrory says his lawsuit asks a federal court to clarify what the law actually says. The Justice Department had sent letters warning the state that its law violated the civil rights of transgender people.

McCrory called that an attempt by the Obama administration to rewrite federal law.

___

10:20 a.m.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is going to court in a fight for a state law that limits protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

McCrory is leading a lawsuit filed Monday seeking to keep in place the law the U.S. Justice Department said last week violated the civil rights of transgender people.

The Justice Department had set a deadline of Monday for McCrory to report whether he would refuse to enforce the last that took effect in March.

___

3:05 a.m.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory shows no signs of backing down in the face of the federal government's Monday deadline to declare he won't enforce the new state law limiting protections for LGBT people — defiance that could risk funding for the state's university system and lead to a protracted legal battle.

The U.S. Justice Department last week warned the new law violates civil rights protections against sex discrimination at work and in education for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The agency focused particularly on provisions requiring transgender people to use public restrooms matching their biological sex. The department says a lawsuit against the state is possible.

McCrory said Sunday on television that Obama administration officials are acting like bullies, but repeatedly declined to say what his written response would be.

Updated:  5/8

(Associated Press)

North Carolina government and university officials have until Monday to tell federal attorneys they won't enforce a new law limiting which public bathrooms transgender people can use.

Gov. Pat McCrory said Sunday that the state will respond by that deadline. McCrory told Fox News he asked the U.S. Justice Department for more time but was denied.

The Justice Department last week wrote McCrory and University of North Carolina leaders saying the law approved in March violates the federal Civil Rights Act. The lawyers want them to explain how they will not enforce or implement the law known as House Bill 2. Justice Department lawyers warn a lawsuit is possible to stop the law.

The law has been criticized by gay rights groups, corporate executives and entertainers who demand its repeal.

North Carolina's prized public universities risk losing more than $1.4 billion a year in federal funds if Republican state lawmakers don't change the law.

The U.S. Justice Department wants University of North Carolina officials to say by Monday that transgender people can use UNC restrooms aligning with their gender identity. The government says the universities and other state agencies are violating federal anti-discrimination laws.

UNC President Margaret Spellings has said that while public universities would comply with the law, she hopes legislators change it.

The former law school dean at nearby Duke University, Katharine Bartlett, says the potential loss of this federal money means Washington is holding a very big stick.

But Dorie Nolt, a federal Education Department spokeswoman, says every Title IX enforcement case in the past decade has been settled before any funds were taken away.

Three Democratic members of North Carolina's congressional delegation are calling on state leaders to repeal the law.

Reps. G.K. Butterfield, David Price and Alma Adams sent a letter Friday to Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican legislative seeking repeal of the bill.

Their letter comes one day after the U.S. Department of Justice said the law violates federal civil rights law. The three also wrote to McCrory last month urging repeal.

Their letter says the law has caused "economic devastation" in North Carolina.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is supporting a legal challenge to the law.

Cuomo says the state will file an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit filed by Lamba Legal, the ACLU and Equality North Carolina seeking to overturn the law.

Shortly after the law passed, Cuomo banned state-funded travel to North Carolina to protest what he says is a discriminatory and illegal law.

The U.S. Justice Department has warned North Carolina officials that the law violates federal civil rights rules and should not be enforced.

Updated:  5/4

(Associated Press)

The U.S. Justice Department says a North Carolina law that limits protections to LGBT people violates federal civil rights laws.

The Obama Administration agency on Wednesday put North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on notice that that state officials must confirm by Monday that they will not comply with or implement the law called House Bill 2.

A letter from the Justice Department obtained by The Associated Press said the law violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in education based on sex. That could lead to North Carolina losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal school funding.

A Republican leader in the North Carolina legislature says the U.S. Justice Department's contention that a new state law limiting LGBT anti-discrimination protections violates federal law is designed to push President Barack Obama administration's "radical left agenda."

House Speaker Tim Moore spoke Wednesday to reporters after the department sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed House Bill 2 into law in March.

Moore says based on the Justice Department's arguments, there can be no facilities that differentiate on the basis of sex.

Sen. Dan Blue is a Democratic legislative leader who opposes the law. Blue urged McCrory and other Republicans to "heed the warnings of the federal government" and stop implementing the law or risk losing federal funds.

McCrory's office didn't immediately respond to the letter. He was scheduled to speak Wednesday evening in Raleigh at a conference hosted by the state's chamber of commerce.

Beyonce is supporting efforts to overturn the law.

The entertainment icon did not directly speak out against House Bill 2 on her website Wednesday, but she did display a photo of a person wearing a T-shirt displaying the slogan "Y'all means all" followed by the Internet address of Equality NC.

In a statement on the site, Beyonce said Equality NC is one of several organizations "doing the good work to get this bill overturned," and asked her fans to donate, volunteer or attend an event.

Beyonce brought her The Formation World Tour to Raleigh on Wednesday. She said she thought it was important "to bring attention to those who are committed to ... carrying on the message of equality."

North Carolina's attorney general wants business leaders to push Republican politicians to change a new LGBT law and to back his campaign for governor.

Democrat Roy Cooper spoke Wednesday to the state's chamber of commerce on the day the business lobby describes changes it wants from legislators. The state chamber has avoided taking a position on the law, which limits legal protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The law also includes barriers to lawsuits some businesses like.

Nearly 200 corporate leaders from around the country have urged the law's repeal, arguing it hurts businesses.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory defends the law and was scheduled to speak to the chamber later. Cooper says business executives should back his campaign if the law's Republican backers won't change it.

Updated:  5/3

(Associated Press)

Education Secretary John King says laws in North Carolina and Mississippi that restrict the rights of transgender Americans are hateful and should be repealed.  King spoke yesterday at the Education Writers Association national conference in Boston.  Asked about laws in the two states, King said that gender identity should be protected.  He says he hopes legislators will realize they've made a terrible mistake.  He's calling for the state legislatures to repeal the laws.  The North Carolina law requires transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates in state government buildings and public schools and universities. Last month, President Barack Obama called for the law to be overturned.  The Mississippi law allows religious groups and some private businesses to deny services to same-sex couples and transgender people. It takes effect July 1.

 A leading North Carolina lawmaker has told business leaders he respects their right to speak out against a law limiting protections for LGBT people — but he's not changing his mind.

The Human Rights Campaign posted a copy of the letter, dated April 19, online Friday. In the letter, Republican Senate leader Phil Berger appears to try to assuage the businesses' fears about the law, but also remarks: "Make no mistake: I supported, and continue to support, the legislation."

Ben Graumann, a spokesman for Equality NC, says the letter was sent to at least some of the 180 businesses whose representatives signed a letter seeking the law's repeal.

A spokeswoman for Berger didn't immediately respond to a voicemail and an email Friday.

North Carolina's legislative session started last week.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association says it won't move its headquarters, its basketball tournament or other conference championships from North Carolina.

The CIAA said in a statement Thursday that it will instead partner with the NCAA to educate its members on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues as it does on other issues, like graduation rates and concussion management.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the CIAA, the oldest African-American sports conference in the U.S., has hosted its annual basketball tournament in Charlotte since 2006 and announced it was moving its headquarters to Charlotte from Virginia in 2015.

The CIAA said Thursday that it will continue to "monitor the issues," as it has since House Bill 2 passed.

The majority leader in the North Carolina Senate says the chamber's Republicans will soon discuss the possibility of holding a referendum on a new law addressing bathroom use by transgender people and limits on LGBT anti-discrimination rules.

Sen. Harry Brown of Jacksonville responded Wednesday to comments by another GOP senator floating a proposed constitutional amendment for an up-or-down statewide vote.

Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville told Asheville's WLOS-TV last Tuesday that Republicans may consider putting the question on the November ballot so that voters can settle on keeping House Bill 2 "once and for all."

Brown told reporters the Senate Republican Caucus would probably discuss the idea in the next few weeks.

Rep. Nelson Dollar of Cary says he has not heard similar discussions among House Republicans.

 A generic pharmaceutical company plans a North Carolina factory employing 275 workers by the end of 2020, the first substantial jobs announcement since the state last month passed a law limiting protections for LGBT people.

Gov. Pat McCrory's office said Tuesday that Aurobindo Pharma USA planned a new drug research and manufacturing plant in Durham. Company officials didn't return messages seeking comment.

Aurobindo could get nearly $4 million in tax breaks if it meets hiring and investment targets.

The announcement is the largest promoted by North Carolina officials since the state law prompted several companies to say they were scrapping or reconsidering expansions.

A spokesman for Braeburn Pharmaceuticals said Tuesday the company continues re-evaluating plans to build a $20 million manufacturing and research facility employing 50 people in Durham County.

 AllEarth Renewables, a Vermont-based solar tracker manufacturer, has announced the company will donate a portion of every tracker sale in North Carolina to the repeal effort of state law HB 2, which it calls discriminatory.

HB 2 overturned protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in North Carolina.

AllEarth says it will donate 1 percent of every sale in North Carolina to Equality NC — an organization leading the HB 2 repeal effort — until the law is repealed.

The company says North Carolina has one of the fastest growing solar markets in the country and ranked second nationwide for solar installations in 2015.

AllEarth has five solar installers providing its solar tracking technology to homes, businesses, and non-profits throughout North Carolina.

Updated:  4/25 

(Associated Press) 

9:15 p.m.

Three dozen more protesters have been arrested amid protests against a North Carolina law limiting restroom use by transgender people and curbing LGBT ordinances by local governments. Authorities say those latest arrests came after protesters failed to leave the Legislative Building after it closed for the night.

Authorities said 36 people were arrested Monday evening outside House Speaker Tim Moore's closed office.

That brings to 54 the number of opponents of the law who were led away in plastic handcuffs or carried away on the General Assembly's opening day of its annual work session.

Acting General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock says all of those arrested would be charged with second-degree trespassing. He also says they'll be cited for violating building rules or the fire code. Brock says one also faces a resisting arrest charge.

7:05 p.m.

Police are making first arrests of protesters who entered North Carolina's Legislative Building to express opposition to a new law addressing limits on LGBT protections and bathroom use by transgender people.

General Assembly police officers have led away at least 18 demonstrators in plastic handcuffs out of House Speaker Tim Moore's outer office by early Monday evening. The House and Senate scheduled their first meeting Monday night of this year's session.

It wasn't immediately clear if the protesters being led away would face charges. About a dozen protesters waited outside Moore's office.

Hundreds of people have been arrested at the Legislative Building over the past three years in protest against Republican policies. The state NAACP has led the movement. People supporting and opposing the law held rallies Monday.

__

6:25 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and a top General Assembly leader say the state's new law on LGBT rights and transgender bathroom rules won't be repealed during this year's legislative session.

Some House Democrats filed a bill to repeal the law Monday, the session's first day. Speaking to reporters in Wilmington after a public appearance, McCrory said a repeal is "not going to happen." And House Speaker Tim Moore said later in Raleigh that overturning the law known as House Bill 2 is "not something we're even talking about right now."

Moore and McCrory both said they are interested in changing part of the law that appears to prevent workers from suing in state court under an employment non-discrimination law.

The law requires transgender people in government buildings to use the public bathrooms aligned with their biological sex and prevents local governments from expanding non-discrimination protections in public accommodation to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

___

5:20 p.m.

Protesters are taking turns sitting outside the offices of the North Carolina General Assembly's top leaders to demand the repeal of a new law curtailing protections for LGBT people and limiting public bathroom access for transgender people.

Several dozen people gathered Monday outside of House Speaker Tim Moore's office. About the same number clustered outside the office of Senate leader Phil Berger.

State NAACP leader the Rev. William Barber led demonstrators in prayer outside Moore's office, then ushered the protesters out so others could take their place. Demonstrators left behind a stack of placards denouncing the law that blocks local and state protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It also directs which restrooms transgender people can use.

More protesters were expected into the evening.

The legislature convenes Monday night for its annual work session.

___

2:25 p.m.

About 20 people held a sit-in outside North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's office in the old Capitol building to protest a law that curtails protections for LGBT people.

The group joined arms Monday and sang songs including "We Shall Not Be Moved."

Among them was Mara Keisling, who leads the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Keisling, a transgender woman, told the group: "On the bright side, I used the women's bathroom here in the governor's house," referring to the fact that his office is in the building.

After two of them delivered a written statement to McCrory's chief of staff, they were told they wouldn't be asked to leave. After about an hour, they decided to file out of the building so they could rejoin a group planning a larger sit-in later in the afternoon.

___

2 p.m.

Thousands of supporters of North Carolina's new law limiting protections for LGBT people and the use of restrooms by transgender people in public places have a message for Gov. Pat McCrory and legislators: We've got your back.

Pastors and conservative advocates spoke at a midday rally Monday on a grassy mall behind the Legislative Building and urged elected officials to protect the law. The General Assembly reconvenes its annual work session Monday night.

The Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina praised lawmakers for passing the law last month even though he said they knew they would be attacked by left-leaning organizations and it could cost them politically.

Bill sponsor Rep. Dan Bishop of Charlotte also spoke at the rally and blamed Charlotte city leaders for passing an ordinance that prompted the need for the law in the first place.

Earlier:

Singers Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato are the latest artists to cancel shows in North Carolina in protest of the state's new law addressing LGBT rights and bathroom use by transgender people.

Jonas and Lovato issued a statement on Twitter on Monday saying they are cancelling the shows in Raleigh and Charlotte this summer because the goal of their concerts are to allow every person to feel equal, included and accepted.

The statement says the North Carolina law that limits government protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens is hateful.

Bruce Springsteen, Mumford and Sons, Pearl Jam, Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil have all cancelled performances in North Carolina since the law was passed last month.

Tempers are flaring as supporters and opponents of a new North Carolina transgender law hold competing rallies to sway legislators starting their annual session.

A single supporter of the law got into a shouting match Monday with several people at a rally against the law on the grounds of the state's 19th century Capitol building.

The middle-aged white man in sunglasses and a blue shirt shouted that the law's opponents are sick and can't tell a man from a woman. Several people confronted him, but the altercation never appeared to become physical. Officers escorted him away without arresting him.

The man would not give his name to reporters.

The law blocks local and state protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and directs which restrooms transgender people can use.

North Carolina House Democrats have filed legislation to repeal the Republican-backed law that blocks local and state protections for LGBT citizens and directs which restrooms transgender people can use.

The Democrats offered the bill Monday, the first day of the legislature's annual work session. The bill has no Republican sponsors. GOP legislative leaders have said they aren't interested in overturning the law approved in a special session last month.

Primary co-sponsor Rep. Darren Jackson says he's hoping momentum from national business leaders and other groups opposing the law will keep the repeal movement front and center this session. Jackson wants a hearing on the bill and an up-or-down vote.

Rallies supporting and opposing the law were going on Monday near the Legislative Building and the old Capitol, where Gov. Pat McCrory's office is. McCrory signed the bill into law.

The day began with the delivery of petitions signed by 180,000 people seeking the repeal of a law that curtails protections for LGBT people.

About 200 people gathered Monday on the grounds of the old Capitol building to hear speakers denounce the law known as House Bill 2, or HB2. They then carried two-dozen cardboard boxes of signatures into the Capitol for delivery to state leaders.

The head of the state NAACP, the Rev. William Barber, called the law "Hate Bill 2." He says it affects the poor and minorities as well as the LGBT community.

Another rally in support of the law was planned for the early afternoon, and the Legislature was scheduled to convene Monday night.

Updated:  4/25

(Associated Press)

North Carolina legislators returning for their annual work session will hear loud and clear from supporters and opponents of a law they approved last month addressing bathroom use by transgender people and limiting government protections for LGBT citizens.

Christian conservatives and other backers of the law known as House Bill 2 scheduled a midday rally today — the first day of the session — near the Legislative Building in Raleigh. Later civil rights groups led by the state NAACP will rally to oppose Republican policies like the law approved in a special session last month. They also plan a "mass sit-in" inside the Legislative Building.

Earlier today, representatives of gay-rights groups will present a petition to Gov. Pat McCrory's office asking he seek the law's repeal.

HB2 is still dominating headlines, but other items will keep the attention of legislators before they adjourn, which likely won't come before early July.

House and Senate Republicans will agree on adjustments to the second year of the two-year budget approved last fall. A small revenue surplus should help them. Gov. Pat McCrory wants average 5 percent pay raises and bonuses for teachers. GOP legislators are also interested in raising standard deductions for income taxes.

Republican legislative leaders have indicated no interest in repealing House Bill 2.

 A group of more than 150 mental health professionals have signed a letter seeking that repeal.

A news release yesterday by Equality North Carolina says the group of social workers, counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists from North Carolina signed a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory.

The letter says that research shows that LGBT students who experience harassment, bullying or discrimination have lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression. Transgender people also have higher rates of attempting suicide than the general population.

Updated:  4/24

(Associated Press)

The head of North Carolina's leading gay-rights group is being sworn in as a member of the North Carolina House on the eve of this year's regular work session.

Chris Sgro of Greensboro takes the oath of office Sunday at the LGBT Center in Raleigh. He'll be the General Assembly's only open gay member.

Guilford County Democrats this month chose Sgro to fill the unexpired term of state Rep. Ralph Johnson who died last month. The work session begins Monday and Sgro is expected to remain in office through the end of the year.

Sgro says he'll seek repeal of a law approved by the General Assembly that limits LGBT protections. Sgro will remain executive director of Equality North Carolina.

A new law approved by the North Carolina General Assembly during a special session addressing bathroom use by transgender people and limiting LGBT protections is still dominating headlines heading into the Legislature's annual work session starting Monday.

But other items beyond House Bill 2 will keep the attention of legislators before they adjourn, which likely won't come before early July.

House and Senate Republicans will agree on adjustments to the second year of the two-year budget approved last fall. A small revenue surplus should help them. Gov. Pat McCrory wants average 5 percent pay raises and bonuses for teachers. GOP legislators are also interested in raising standard deductions for income taxes.

Republican legislative leaders aren't interesting in repealing House Bill 2. Legislative Building protests could strengthen or weaken their resolve.

Updated:  4/23

(Associated Press)

The Blue Man Group is the latest musical act to cancel shows in North Carolina after the state's passage of a law limiting anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community.

The group was scheduled to perform June 17 through June 19 in Charlotte but issued a statement Friday that it was canceling the shows.

The statement said the group values "every individual's right to live a dignified, vibrant life in full color. As such, we are joining the growing list of entertainment professionals in protest of North Carolina's HB2 law."

Other artists who have cancelled North Carolina appearances in the wake of the law's passage include Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Ani DiFranco, Pearl Jam and Boston.

Groups that want to unseat North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory are airing a television ad criticizing him for signing the law.

The Democratic Governors Association is backing the North Carolina Families First political action committee that's running the commercial that began airing Friday in Charlotte.

Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance that led state lawmakers to pass the law overturning it. Democratic Governors Association spokesman Jared Leopold says at least $100,000 is being spent on the ad.

The ad shows footage from news programs discussing McCrory and the law. It ends with the narrator saying McCrory is "taking North Carolina backwards."

McCrory faces a re-election challenge from Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper.

President Barack Obama says North Carolina's law  is wrong should be overturned.

Obama is criticizing the state law and others targeting LGBT people during a news conference in London. He says they're in response to politics and strong emotions. Obama says some of the proponents are good people but that he disagrees with them.

Obama is commenting after the U.K. put out a travel advisory warning British citizens about possible discrimination if they travel to certain U.S. states. Obama says Americans in those states are "wonderful people" and that British citizens should feel free to come and enjoy themselves. He says they'll be treated with "extraordinary hospitality."

Obama says the U.S. isn't unique in having a federal system where states can make their own policies.

Updated: 4/22

(Associated Press)

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he believes the league has made it "crystal clear" that a change in a North Carolina law is necessary to stage the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, though is resisting setting a deadline for a decision.

Silver says Thursday that he has spoken to political and business leaders in North Carolina, who have told the league that if given time, they believe there will be a change in the law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

Silver tells a meeting of Associated Press Sports Editors that the league doesn't have to decide yet when it would need to make other arrangements, though he says it has a sense which arenas would be able to take on the February weekend if necessary.

North Carolina's law is the country's most discussed state legislation, but few lawmakers seem willing to talk about it.

Less than a third of the state's legislators answered in a statewide survey whether they'd prefer to amend the law or leave it as-is when their session starts Monday.

The survey, conducted by seven newspapers and The Associated Press, was put to all 168 current senators and representatives. They were asked whether they supported revisiting the law.

Overall, 41 said they favor revisiting it. That's several more than voted against the law or left in protest the day it passed in March. Eleven said they don't favor changes, while 17 gave equivocal answers or declined to comment. The rest didn't participate.

Attorneys are adding a transgender high school student to a lawsuit challenging the law just days after a federal appeals court sided with a transgender student in a Virginia case.

The federal lawsuit updated Thursday challenges a North Carolina law limiting some protections for transgender people.

The plaintiffs now include 17-year-old Hunter Schafer, a junior at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School in Winston-Salem. She uses the restroom and lives in dorms with girls, but the North Carolina law would require that she use boys' facilities.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond backed a transgender teen's arguments that a Virginia school board violated federal anti-discrimination rules by forbidding him from using the boys' restroom. The ruling affects North Carolina.

Conservative supporters of the law say they want to know how much communication there was between gay rights groups and Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Cooper refuses to defend the law in court. The North Carolina Values Coalition said Thursday it filed public records requests because it had questions about whether the Democrat's decision was motivated by his campaign against incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

The public records requests came a week after the Human Rights Campaign filed similar demands for documents from McCrory, state House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger. Those requests seek any correspondence between the elected leaders, the Values Coalition and the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom.

 

Updated:  4/21

(Associated Press)

The leader of North Carolina's state senate says he doesn't see the need to amend House Bill 2- the law that limits protections for the LGBT community during the upcoming session.  Sen. Phil Berger said at a news conference yesterday that he would listen to a proposal from Gov. Pat McCrory seeking to allow people to use state law to sue over workplace discrimination. The session starts on Monday.  But Berger also said – quote- "I don't know that I would at any point be ready to say we are going to make any changes. I just don't see the need for it."  Both Berger and McCrory are Republicans.  Berger also said that a federal appeals court ruling that threatens a key measure of the law is "troubling," but he argues it's not the final word.

The following video is from Raleigh TV station WRAL:

Meanwhile, fallout over HB2 is continuing.  The British government is advising LGBT citizens to pay special attention when traveling to North Carolina and Mississippi.  The travel advice update was posted on the British government's website Tuesday.  The British advisory says new laws in North Carolina and Mississippi may affect LGBT travelers and directs those seeking more detail to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization. The advisory adds that attitudes toward LGBT people differ widely across the United States.  Mississippi's law allows merchants with religious objections to deny service to customers.

Updated:  4/19

(Associated Press)

A federal appeals court has overturned a policy barring a transgender student from using the boys' restrooms at his Virginia high school.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the Gloucester County School Board policy is discriminatory. A federal judge had rejected Gloucester High School student Gavin Grimm's sex discrimination claim.

The appeals court's ruling establishes legal precedent in the five states in the 4th Circuit, including North Carolina, which faces a lawsuit challenging a new state law requiring transgender public school students to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate.

 

Grimm was born female but identifies as male. After complaints, the school board adopted a policy requiring students to use public restrooms corresponding with their biological gender.

WCQS's Jeremy Loeb spoke with Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina about the ruling:

The ACLU of North Carolina released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling makes plain that North Carolina’s House Bill 2 violates Title IX by discriminating against transgender students and forcing them to use the wrong restroom at school. This mean-spirited law not only encourages discrimination and endangers transgender students – it puts at risk billions of dollars in federal funds that North Carolina receives for secondary and post-secondary schools. House Bill 2 exposes North Carolinians to discrimination and harm, is wreaking havoc on the state’s economy and reputation, and now more than ever, places the state’s federal education funding in jeopardy. We again call on Governor McCrory and the General Assembly to repeal House Bill 2 and replace it with full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.”

Governor Pat McCrory, who signed House Bill 2, responded to questions from reporters shortly after learning of the 4th Circuit ruling.  This video is courtesy of TV station WRAL in Raleigh:

Two rock bands have become the latest to cancel concerts in North Carolina because of the state's new law on LGBT rights.

In a statement issued Monday on the band's website, Pearl Jam called the law "a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens."

The statement says the band has communicated with local groups and will give them money to oppose the law.

Pearl Jam was scheduled to perform April 20 at PNC Arena in Raleigh.

Earlier Monday, the rock group Boston also announced plans to cancel concerts because of North Carolina's new law regarding the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Guitarist Tom Scholz announced the group's decision on its Facebook page. Concerts were scheduled for Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh early next month.

The agency that promotes tourism in Raleigh says losses have reached $3 million because of cancellations prompted by the protests of North Carolina's law on LGBT rights.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau told local media Monday the economic losses from the law have quadrupled in the past week.

The visitors' bureau said $2.4 million in lost business has been reported this week. The bureau said last week the area lost about $732,000 because of cancellations or the scaling back of plans.

Opponents say the law discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The biggest cancellation is $1.7 million from the Community Transportation Association of America. It planned to bring 1,000 people in June 2018. The Washington, D.C., association says it will hold the event in Baltimore instead.

Updated:  4/16

(Associated Press)

A North Carolina city is bracing for an economic hit if thousands stay away from what's billed as the world's largest furniture market.

Organizers say thousands could boycott the semiannual High Point Market to protest a new North Carolina law that limits protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. About 75,000 buyers, sellers and other industry insiders usually cram into High Point for the market, which opens Saturday. The next is scheduled for October.

A professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who co-authored a market impact study says if 2,000 people boycott the market, it could mean $15 million in lost tourism spending. T. William Lester also says a 5 percent drop in market sales could mean more than $100 million less for North Carolina furniture manufacturers.

Ani DiFranco and Cyndi Lauper are the latest musicians to protest the law.

DiFranco said in a statement Thursday that she canceled her appearance at Festival for the Eno music festival in Durham on July 4, because of the legislation she described as a "direct attack on the rights of the LGBT community."

Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr also canceled shows to protest North Carolina's law.

Lauper said in a statement Wednesday that she would be donating all proceeds from her June 4 show in Raleigh to Equality North Carolina.

Likewise, comedian Louis C.K. said in an email to fans that he would also donate profits from Asheville shows to the advocacy group.

The leader of gay-rights group Equality North Carolina is now a North Carolina House member days before the General Assembly reconvenes.

Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Chris Sgro of Greensboro on Thursday. State law obligated the governor to appoint Sgro, the choice of Guilford County Democrats to fill the unexpired term of the late Rep. Ralph Johnson.

Sgro has said his top priority will be repealing HB2.  Republicans have framed the legislation as a safety issue that will ensure people use the bathroom aligned with their biological sex.

The new General Assembly begins April 25. Sgro's term will end at the end of the year.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts has told a town hall meeting that her city shouldn't be punished for standing up for LGBT rights through an ordinance that was eventually struck down by the law.

Roberts spoke to a town hall meeting aimed at building a coalition of opposition to the law. The mayor said the city wants to be welcoming to all people and that local businesses should be told that Charlotte did the right thing in passing the ordinance.

Around 200 people crowded into a room in an Uptown Charlotte hotel for the first in a series of town hall meetings addressing the controversial legislation.

A pair of rainbow flags has been stolen from a rural Orange County church about a week after a pair of similar banners were burned outside of the same church.

News outlets report that Hillsborough United Church of Christ reported the theft to the Orange County Sheriff's Office on Thursday and replaced the stolen flags with another new set.

The theft comes in the wake of church members finding the scorched remains of a pair of rainbow flags Saturday morning.

Rev. Jay Kennett says the banners were raised last month to support the LGBT community in the wake of House Bill 2.

Deputies are still investigating both the flag-burning and the theft.

Updated:  4/13

(Associated Press)

Deutsche Bank is halting plans to add 250 jobs in North Carolina because of a state law limiting protections for lesbians, gays and transgender people.

Previously, the bank had planned to add the jobs through next year in Cary.

But on Tuesday co-executive officer John Cryan said the company is "unwilling to include North Carolina in its U.S. expansion plans for now," because of the law. He said the German 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.

The law passed last month overrules LGBT antidiscrimination measures passed by local governments. It also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from the state's antidiscrimination policy.

Two North Carolina craft breweries are making a protest beer in opposition to HB2.  Mystery Brewing Company in Hillsborough and Ponysaurus Brewing Company in Durham are leading the effort announced this week. They say 30 other breweries are pledging resources.  They're naming the beer "Don't Be Mean to People, A Golden Rule Saison." It will be made in Durham with North Carolina ingredients and will go on sale in May.  Profits from the beer will be donated to LGBT advocacy groups Equality NC and QORDS.  Several Asheville companies are participating, including Thirsty Monk, Wedge Brewing Company, Riverbend Malt House and New Belgium Brewing… and from Sylva,  Heinzelmannchen and Innovation Brewing Campany.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is urging the National Basketball Association to move the 2017 NBA All-Star game away from Charlotte because of HB2.

Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Patty Murray of Washington state, along with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, wrote to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday.

The senators said they hold no ill will toward the people of Charlotte but cannot "stand idly by as North Carolina moves to legalize and institutionalize discrimination."

The senators said the NBA made history when Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete in a major U.S. sports league.

Rock 'n' roll fan Gov. Pat McCrory says he loves Bruce Springsteen's music but he says the Boss is wrong in opposing HB2.

Springsteen canceled his concert last Sunday for Greensboro, North Carolina, citing the law McCrory signed. Guitarist Steven Van Zandt said such legislation is like an "evil virus" spreading around the U.S.

The state law came after Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

McCrory said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press he thinks Springsteen and Van Zandt have "lost the pulse of the working-class men and women" who "agree with common-sense restroom and bathroom regulations" with the law.

It's not unusual to hear rock music playing on the stereo on the porch of the Executive Mansion.

But McCrory himself seems to have a problem with at least part of the law.  He says he wants lawmakers to restore the right to sue over discrimination in state court, but he's not challenging a new law on gender-specific bathroom access.

McCrory announced an executive order Tuesday in response to a wide-ranging bill he signed last month affecting the rights of lesbian, gay and transgender people.

His 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.

The order would expand the state equal employment policy to include sexual orientation and gender.

He also says he will ask lawmakers to file legislation that allows people to sue in state court over discrimination — which had been wiped out by the law.

McCrory says he listened to lots of feedback before announcing his executive action, but he knows it won't satisfy some critics on both sides.

McCrory told The Associated Press on Tuesday he's been working on his order since he signed the law three weeks ago. But he said in an interview he doesn't regret signing the law because Charlotte had forced the issue by its "government overreach" in an ordinance mandating more rules upon private businesses.

The governor also told the AP he's concerned that some companies have halted expansions in North Carolina since the law was approved but believes many businesses are misinformed about its contents. He says recent phone calls with corporate executives have "absolutely" prevented jobs and investment from going elsewhere.

Updated: 4/11

(Associated Press)

About 500 people have gathered on the grounds of the old Capitol building in Raleigh to show their support for a North Carolina law that limits protections for the LGBT community.

At the midday rally Monday, speakers led the crowd in chants offering thanks to Gov. Pat McCrory and the state's Republican legislative leaders.

Mark Creech of the Christian Action League decried what he said was a smear campaign to distort what he believes is a commonsense law to protect privacy in bathrooms.

Across the street about 100 people gathered in a counter protest, holding signs such as "Bigotry is Bad for Business."

As the law's supporters spoke, they chanted: "They are up there preaching hate! They do not represent our state!"

Democrats in North Carolina's third-largest county are sending a gay-rights advocate to the state Legislature for its annual session beginning later this month.

Members of the Guilford County Democratic Party executive committee on Saturday selected Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro to fill an unexpired term. He says his top priority will be repealing a new state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

Sgro will complete the term ending this year of Rep. Ralph Johnson, who died last month. Guilford County Democratic Chairwoman Myra Slone says Sgro was elected by about 40 Democratic activists who live in the 58th District of the state House of Representatives.

Sgro says he was selected because local Democrats wanted a voice in the Legislature for the LGBT community.

Religious leaders, media personalities and others are gathering in North Carolina'scapital to reaffirm support for a law that blocks rules allowing transgender people to use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity.

Monday's rally by the "Keep NC Safe" Coalition on the old Capitol grounds in Raleigh comes while vocal national opposition to the law continues. CEOs are urging Gov. Pat McCrory and legislators to repeal it and Bruce Springsteen canceled his Greensboro concert Sunday because of it.

Scheduled rally speakers include the Benham Brothers, Christian author Frank Turek, and Pentecostal minister Bishop Harry Jackson.

Law supporters say it protects women and children from men who use the law as a pretense to deliberately enter the wrong restroom. The law also limits other anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community.

The decision by the North Carolina legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory to overturn Charlotte's anti-discrimination ordinance is the latest muscle-flexing by leaders in Republican-controlled states to rebuff local governments.

A focal point of the Charlotte ordinance was a provision that allowed transgender people to use the restroom that conformed to their gender identities. But the law signed March 23 also bars all cities and counties in the state from passing anti-discrimination ordinances that would protect gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

North Carolina House Majority Leader Mike Hager says legislators are stepping in because the most liberal mayors and city councils are over-regulating.

North Carolina lawmakers have passed several other laws limiting what cities and counties can do.

 Mayors from around the country are forming a group called "Mayors Against Discrimination" in the wake of recent North Carolina and Mississippi laws they say are discriminatory.

The coalition that includes mayors from New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia and other cities plans to explore prohibitions on contracting and purchasing from companies in those states in response to the new laws, which critics say discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Mississippi recently passed a law allowing religious groups and some private businesses to refuse service to gay couples. The North Carolina law prevents specific anti-discrimination rules for gay and transgender people for public accommodations and restroom use.

Supporters of the Mississippi law say it's about protecting freedom of those who, for example, don't want to perform same-sex weddings for religious reasons. Religious leaders and others have defended the North Carolina law, saying it protects women and children from men who use the law as a pretense to enter the wrong restroom.

The head of North Carolina's flagship public university says the law is threatening the flow of private-sector money as donors and businesses are considering whether they want to continue providing funding for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Campus Chancellor Carol Folt made the comment in a letter to students and faculty addressing the university's compliance with the law.

Folt says current and prospective donors are signaling they may reconsider their gifts since the law was adopted into law two weeks ago. Folt says the law also is jeopardizing grants and relationships with businesses.

The top academic officer at Appalachian State University says the school's chancellor wants to meet with students protesting a new state law limiting anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Provost Darrell Kruger says Chancellor Sheri Everts aims to meet with campus protesters Monday, after she recovers from surgery. Protest spokeswoman Rachel Clay said about 50 students were occupying the ground-floor lobby of the school's administration building Saturday, two days after dozens of students began their sit-in.

Clay says students will keep occupying the building until Everts denounces the new law.

College campuses across the state have seen protests against the law, which blocks some anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The law also requires transgender people to use only public bathrooms matching their biological sex.

Dayton is banning its employees from non-essential government travel to Mississippi and North Carolina, saying recent laws passed in the two states discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

A Thursday memo from Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley forbids city dollars paying for non-essential travel to the states.

The Dayton Daily News reports Whaley said the new laws conflict with the city's values and anti-discrimination ordinances enacted by city commissioners.

At issue is a Mississippi law that allows people and groups with religious objections to refuse service to gay people, and a North Carolina law that prevents transgender people from using the restroom of his or her preference.

Cuyahoga County has also banned travel to North Carolina.

Other cities and states have issued similar travel bans.

 

Updated: 4/8

Fallout over HB2 is accelerating, with news that the law is threatening at least 500 jobs in Buncombe County.  The following quote from Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce president Kit Cramer was e-mailed to chamber members.  We have placed in bold the comment about jobs:

Good afternoon, Asheville Chamber members.

Over the last week there has been a lot of attention on House Bill 2. We have heard from members, businesses and individuals expressing their views on the law. We wanted to share with you comments Chamber president Kit Cramer made at today's Legislative Luncheon. Please see below.

"I want to address the elephant in the room: House Bill 2.

"The Chamber is a membership organization with a focus on business, and building community through business. We have over 1,800 member companies that represent a broad cross section of industry. Earlier this week the Citizen Times reported on a poll that showed North Carolinians are almost evenly divided on this law.

"But there is one element of HB2 that we should all agree upon: Discrimination, in any form, is not acceptable, and it’s bad for business. It’s not acceptable in Asheville. It’s not acceptable in Western North Carolina and it’s not acceptable in our state. Any hint of discrimination should be scrubbed from the law. The very fabric of who we are as a community is tolerant.

"That being said, HB2 is not a simple law. It touches on a number of issues that impact business. And it is our role as an organization to delve into those issues, understand their implications, share that information with our members and elected officials and advocate for improvements in the law. And by the way, it’s not a fun role to play.

"We have members with diverse views, but our common desire is to help make Asheville and Buncombe County great places to live and work. Just as a reminder, we are non-partisan. We are not going to get embroiled in political rhetoric, but instead, do the work to enable us to effectively address important issues for our business community.

"So that’s what we intend to do. The General Assembly goes back into short session on April 25th. We are working with members who have subject matter expertise on elements of the law to understand the impact on the business environment.
 
"We’re also monitoring reaction to HB2 and its impact on business and will share those results with our own delegation as well as legislators around the state.

"In fact, I’ll share one reaction right now. We’ve been working on a project that would bring 500 good-paying technology jobs to Buncombe County. The site selector called us yesterday to say that while they loved Asheville, they loved our team, and loved their last visit here, the company’s CEO has said that not another dime would be spent on expansion in North Carolina until HB2 is addressed. Charlotte lost 400 jobs with Pay Pal’s announcement. We’re talking about another 100 jobs on top of that. And we are nowhere near the size of Charlotte. That’s a loss that would be incredibly hard to swallow.

"So just in case I haven’t been clear enough: We are against discrimination in any form and want to see it eradicated from the law."

More from the Associated Press:

The president of North Carolina's public university system says a new state law addressing LGBT discrimination was hastily written by lawmakers who introduced and passed it in one day, perhaps without fully considering all the implications for higher education.

University of North Carolina system President Margaret Spellings spoke to reporters by telephone Friday, a day after the release of her memo to campus chancellors noting the university would comply with the law, which requires people to use only those bathrooms matching their biological sex. Spellings says some may have misunderstood the memo as an endorsement of the law.

On Friday, Spellings noted the law doesn't describe how to enforce the bathroom rules, and that universities don't have to change their anti-discrimination policies protecting LGBT people.

The memo said the 17 campuses will follow the state's new law about transgender people by requiring that all bathrooms be designated for use by people based on their biological sex.

President Margaret Spellings said in a memo to chancellors that the 16 college campuses and the N.C. School of Science and Math must label multi-occupancy changing facilities for single-sex use. She says schools may provide single-occupancy bathrooms or changing facilities that are gender-neutral.

The American Civil Liberties Union was one of four groups to join a statement issued Thursday saying they're disappointed that UNC concluded it must follow the new law. The groups say it violates federal law.

Spellings' memo, sent Tuesday, notes that the new law doesn't address enforcement.

UNC Asheville Chancellor Mary Grant has a statement regarding House Bill 2, from UNCA's website:

From Chancellor Grant:

Following up on the message that I sent to campus on Sunday evening, I want to update you on the recent legislation known as House Bill 2 (HB2), which was passed into law by the NC General Assembly on Wednesday, March 23.

On Monday, March 28, a federal lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of North Carolina, Equality NC and members of the UNC community seeking to stop implementation of this law. We are working closely with the UNC system’s General Administration to understand the impact of this law, and the subsequent legal challenge to the law, on our campus.

Many of you, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni, have expressed concerns, fears, and anxiety over the passage of this bill. I share these concerns.

As I wrote in my earlier message, I want to assure you that we fully support our LGBTQ community and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that our campus is a safe place for people of all faiths, races, sexual orientations, abilities and gender identities and that all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to our campus are treated with dignity and equity.

Resources are available through the Campus Title IX office at 828.232.5658 and Hyannis House at 828.251.6577.

We will provide more information as it becomes available.

Mary K. Grant,

Ph.D. Chancellor

"Sense of the Senate," Passed by UNC Asheville Faculty Senate on April 4

"The Faculty of UNC Asheville are deeply concerned about the recent passage of HB2, and its harmful impact on many North Carolinians and visitors to our state. A law that prohibits state and municipal agencies from protecting members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination is fundamentally at odds with our values of diversity, justice, and equal protection. The Faculty of UNC Asheville fervently reaffirm our commitment to providing a safe, welcoming, and inclusive community of learning that aligns with UNC Asheville's mission and vision."

Updated: 4/7

Ohio's most populous county is banning its employees from non-essential government travel to North Carolina after that state enacted a law prohibiting communities from passing ordinances to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said Wednesday that the ban is in effect until North Carolina repeals or amends its law on bias ordinances. Budish's statement says the county, which includes Cleveland, has adopted a plan that "ensures equal treatment" for the LGBTQ community.

The statement says corporations that have expressed opposition to the North Carolina law should consider taking their business to Cuyahoga County. Budish calls it a "more welcoming location."

A number of cities and states have issued similar government travel bans in response to the North Carolina law.

 Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo says she won't ban state employees from traveling to North Carolina in protest of the law.

The Providence Journal reports Raimondo said Wednesday there are other ways to show support for members of the LGBT community.

Raimondo says she'll reach out to PayPal and other businesses upset by the North Carolina law to ask them to expand in Rhode Island. PayPal has canceled a planned operations center in Charlotte.

Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law March 23 preventing local governments from protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity when they use public accommodations.

Governors in other states have banned state-funded travel to North Carolina in response.

A South Carolina senator wants to bar local governments from requiring businesses to let transgender people use the bathroom of their choice, saying he's taking a "stand for decency and common sense."

The bill introduced Wednesday by Sen. Lee Bright would also require multistall bathrooms on public property to be designated and used "based on biological sex."

Bright says how private businesses handle their bathrooms should be up to the owners, not government. He knows of no city in South Carolina where that's an issue, but he supports a controversial North Carolina law that's drawn a backlash nationwide.

Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin supports the bill, saying he doesn't want "cross-dressers" going into a bathroom with his granddaughters.

Martin says the best way to accommodate people is to have unisex bathrooms.

 Montana officials are inviting PayPal to consider Montana for its new operation center after the online payment company canceled expansion plans in North Carolina.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Gov. Steve Bullock and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester invited the company to consider bringing the 400 jobs to Montana that had been planned for the Tar Heel State.

Bullock spokesman Tim Crowe says the invitation is serious and state officials are prepared to discuss financial incentives.

On Tuesday, PayPal scuttled its $3.6 million plan for the North Carolina center because of a new state law that that restricts protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The company said its decision reflected its belief that all people should be treated equally.

 

Updated: 4/5

Today, news is breaking that PayPal is cancelling a planned expansion in Charlotte over HB2, costing the state 400 jobs.  The following statement was released today by Dan Schulman, PayPal President and CEO:

Two weeks ago, PayPal announced plans to open a new global operations center in Charlotte and employ over 400 people in skilled jobs.  In the short time since then, legislation has been abruptly enacted by the State of North Carolina that invalidates protections of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens and denies these members of our community equal rights under the law. The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.  As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte. 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.  Our decision is a clear and unambiguous one. But we do regret that we will not have the opportunity to be a part of the Charlotte community and to count as colleagues the skilled and talented people of the region. As a company that is committed to the principle that everyone deserves to live without fear of discrimination simply for being who they are, becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable.   While we will seek an alternative location for our operations center, we remain committed to working with the LGBT community in North Carolina to overturn this discriminatory legislation, alongside all those who are committed to equality. We will stand firm in our commitment to equality and inclusion and our conviction that we can make a difference by living and acting on our values.  It’s the right thing to do for our employees, our customers, and our communities.  

Dan Schulman, President and CEO, PayPal

(Associated Press):

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said it's up to individual companies to decide how to deal with a new law that requires transgender people to use bathrooms that conform to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The governor made the comments Tuesday at a high school in Jamestown, where he was already scheduled to talk about education initiatives. His remarks came within hours of the decision by PayPal to withdraw its commitment to Charlotte, where it planned to expand and create 400 jobs in North Carolina's largest city.

McCrory said he expects PayPal to continue providing services in North Carolina.

After taking several questions on the topic, McCrory ended the question-and-answer session and went into the school's administrative office, avoiding reporters who waited in front of the school to ask additional questions.

North Carolina legislative leaders who backed HB2 are blaming a business backlash on Charlotte's mayor and the Democrat running for governor.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger spoke Tuesday after PayPal reversed plans to open a 400-employee operation center in Charlotte. They said Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Attorney General Roy Cooper were responsible.

Roberts and the city council in February approved giving gay residents expanded legal protections and transgender residents the ability to use the restroom conforming with their gender identity. Cooper said he would not defend the law in court.

The law's backers say it prevents men from claiming to be transgender and molesting women and children in bathrooms. Opponents say those claims are bogus.

Supporters of the law are decrying PayPal's decision.

The North Carolina Values Coalition said Tuesday the company shouldn't insert itself into state policy decisions after needing millions of dollars in promised corporate incentives before pledging to open a Charlotte operation center. The group says PayPal is expanding into Cuba despite its human rights violations.

The Values Coalition led demands for the law because a Charlotte ordinance would have allowed transgender people to use bathrooms conforming to their gender identity. Supporters of state action said that would have given men cover to molest victims in women's bathrooms and locker rooms. Opponents say those claims are bogus.

Vermont's governor is inviting PayPal to expand there.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin said he had written to PayPal CEO Dan Schulman pointing out that Vermont has a "proud history of non-discrimination and protecting the rights of all citizens."

Shumlin also cited Vermont's burgeoning high-tech industry.

The San Jose, California-based PayPal said Tuesday it was canceling its planned expansion in Charlotte, North Carolina, because of the state's new law. The law includes limits to bathroom options for transgender people, requiring them to use those conforming to the sex on their birth certificates.

More Associated Press updates on HB2 are below:

(Associated Press):

The mayor of Atlanta is joining other city and state officials in banning taxpayer-funded travel to North Carolina over its new law preventing specific anti-discrimination rules for gay and transgender people for public accommodations and restroom use.

Local news outlets report Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Monday he has ordered city employees to halt non-essential trips to North Carolina because of what he called "discriminatory and unnecessary legislation."

The Atlanta travel ban follows similar actions by the mayor of the District of Columbia, the Boston city council and the governors of Washington, New York, Connecticut and Minnesota.

The North Carolina law responded to a Charlotte city ordinance approved in February that would have extended protections to gays and lesbians as well as bisexual and transgender people while at hotels, restaurants and stores.

The Obama administration is reviewing whether the law could affect the flow of federal aid to the state.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says federal agencies are leading the review of the new law's impact on federal policies. He says the White House is not yet involved, but could offer specific direction later.

Earnest says he's not surprised some businesses are cutting back spending and investment in North Carolina out of protest. He says such laws "do not create a hospitable business environment" and force employers to question whether their employees will be treated fairly.

Nearly 270 authors and illustrators of children's books have signed a letter calling for the immediate repeal of the law.

The letter, which was posted on the School Library Journal website, said the 269 signees are "disappointed and angered by the reprehensible legislation" signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory. They called for repeal of what they called a "hateful piece of legislation."

Among the names on the list are authors Rick Riordan, Jeff Kinney and Veronica Roth.

The group also said it would have to consider participation in conferences and festivals in North Carolina while the law is in effect.

 

Updated:  4/3

(Associated Press):

Tony award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz says he is advising his licensing organizations and touring producers to deny any North Carolina theatre or organization the right to produce any of its shows in response to passage of a law that prevents specific anti-discrimination rules for LGBT people for public accommodations and restroom use.

Schwartz has written such hit musicals as "Godspell," ''Pippin" and "Wicked."

"Wicked" had a three-week run in Charlotte in January.

In a statement posted on www.broadwayworld.com, Schwartz called the law "reprehensible and discriminatory." He said it was important that any state that passes such a law suffer economic and cultural consequences, and he called on others to follow his lead until the law is repealed.

The CEO of PepsiCo, Inc., a company with roots in North Carolina, has written Gov. Pat McCrory, asking him to repeal the new law preventing specific anti-discrimination rules for LGBT people for public accommodations and restroom use.

In a letter hand delivered to McCrory on Friday, PepsiCo head Indra Nooyi called the law inconsistent with how her company treats its employees. Nooyi also said the law is undermining efforts to advance North Carolina's interests, and she said she hoped McCrory would consider repealing the law when the state legislature reconvenes later this month.

PepsiCo, Inc. developed from the merger of Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay. Pepsi-Cola was created in the late 1890s by New Bern pharmacist Caleb Bradham. Annual shareholder meetings have been held in New Bern in the past several years.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is banning state employees from nonessential travel to North Carolina because of that state's new law limiting official protections for gays and lesbians and transgender people.

Dayton sent a letter Saturday to all state employees, directing them to stop all nonessential travel to North Carolina for conferences or other official state business until further notice. The Democratic governor says North Carolina's new law "violates the values and the laws" of Minnesota.

The new law also requires transgender people to use public restroom facilities that correspond with their gender at birth.

Dayton joins a growing list of governors and mayors who've forbidden trips to North Carolina. The policy allows state-funded travel to North Carolina if it's necessary to protect the safety "or other essential interests" of Minnesotans.

Boston is banning city travel to North Carolina in response to a new state law that critics say discriminates against gay and transgender people.

The Boston Globe reports that Boston's city council approved a measure this week prohibiting taxpayer-funded travel to North Carolina. It joins a growing list of cities and states that have restricted official travel to the Tar Heel State, including New York, Connecticut and the District of Columbia.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser has banned city employees from official travel to North Carolina.

Bowser, a Democrat, signed an order on Thursday barring city employees from official travel to North Carolina until the law is repealed. Her order says the District government values "equal treatment for members of the LGBTQ communities."

The venture capital arm of Google's parent corporation won't invest in North Carolina startup businesses with the law in place.

GV spokeswoman Jodi Olson confirmed Friday the decision by the firm's top leader not to provide financing to companies in the state until the law is repealed. She referred to a quote by GV chief executive Bill Maris — first reported by a tech-focused news site called Re/code — to flag possible North Carolina investments because he's "not comfortable deploying dollars into startups there until the voters there fix this."

GV used to be known as Google Ventures.

A top leader at the North Carolina legislature is knocking down any expectation changes will be made to last week's law limiting official protections for gays and lesbians and transgender people.

Gov. Pat McCrory and another key lawmaker suggested earlier this week tweaks could be made. The legislature reconvenes in three weeks.

Responding late Thursday to questions whether Senate leader Phil Berger has an appetite for changes, Berger spokeswoman Shelly Carver said no because "an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians we've heard from support" the law.

The law also has brought severe criticism of McCrory and legislative Republicans from gay-rights groups and corporate CEOs.

The Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina announced Friday more than 120 corporate executives have now signed on to a letter seeking the law's repeal. New executives on the list include those from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Qualcomm and EMC Corp.

Updated:  4/1

(Associated Press):

A Christian legal aid group is offering to defend a new North Carolina law against a lawsuit challenging its near ban of anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people.

The group Liberty Counsel offered the General Assembly's Republican leaders its free labor to defend the case against a federal lawsuit by transgender men and civil rights groups. The group last year represented Kentucky clerk Kim Davis over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The North Carolina law prevents local governments from protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity when they use public accommodations such as hotels and restaurants. People also would have to use multi-stall bathrooms that match their birth certificates at state agencies and public schools and universities.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat running for Governor, announced earlier this week he would not defend the law in court, saying it conflicted with a policy in his department banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The names of than 100 corporate executives from some of the nation's biggest employers are on a letter calling for the repeal of North Carolina's law limiting bathroom options for transgender people and prohibiting local anti-discrimination measures.

Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina announced the growing list on Thursday after delivering the letter to the chief of staff to Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill into law last week.

The list includes the CEOs of Starbucks, eBay, Barnes & Noble, American Airlines, Hilton Worldwide, Accenture, and other well-known companies. Technology leaders are heavily represented, including IBM, Apple, Intel, Facebook, Yahoo and AirBnB.

HRC Executive Director Chad Griffin and others said they spoke briefly with the governor after delivering the letter, but declined to discuss his response.

McCrory's spokesman, Josh Ellis, released a statement saying the governor "appreciated the opportunity to sit down and deal with these complex issues through conversation and dialogue as opposed to political threats and economic retaliation."

Gay-rights advocates have argued that companies may reconsider doing business in the country's ninth-largest state as a result of the law.

Updated:  3/31

(Associated Press):

Gov. Pat McCrory and a key state senator are suggesting some tweaks are possible down the road for a new state law restricting local government action on LGBT protections that's received calls for repeal from gay-rights groups and corporations nationwide.

In a video message this week defending his decision to sign the law, McCrory offered to "work on solutions that will make this bill better in the future." He didn't provide suggestions but re-affirmed the law was needed to ensure privacy for people using restrooms and locker rooms.

Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca said in an interview Wednesday some small changes were possible. For example, Apodaca says a transgender woman told him she's unable to change the gender on her out-of-state birth certificate, preventing her from using the bathroom aligned with her gender identity.

The General Assembly reconvenes April 25.

North Carolina's top state senator is coming to the defense of Gov. McCrory.

Senate leader Phil Berger's campaign committee unveiled a website — www.standwithmccrory.com — Wednesday urging people to join a petition supporting his fellow Republican for signing the bill last week.

McCrory has taken the lion's share of criticism nationally for the legislation, which also directs public schools and state agencies to limit men's and women's multi-stall bathroom use only to people of the same biological sex.

The site had received 3,000 names by midday.

Berger's action backing McCrory contrasts with the sometimes strained relations on policy between the governor and Senate leadership.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says not only will he ban the use of city funds for nonessential travel to North Carolina.

Emanuel attributed his ability recently to lure a Whole Foods warehouse and 200 jobs from Indiana to Chicago to that state's passage of a "religious freedom" bill that raised concerns about discrimination against gays and lesbians. The mayor also threw in a $7.4 million subsidy.

Emanuel said he has already been on the phone and has asked his staff to draw up a list of North Carolina companies they think "we can talk into considering a move to Chicago."

 Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is urging North Carolina businesses to move to Connecticut in response to a new law that critics have called discriminatory.

A letter from Malloy obtained by The Associated Press is expected to be sent Wednesday to several companies.

The Democrat says businesses should move to Connecticut because it's "welcoming and inclusive."

Malloy says the law sends a message that North Carolina is "closed-minded when it comes to human rights and doesn't celebrate the LGBT community."

He says employees and customers wouldn't face such "institutional discrimination" in Connecticut, which protects gender identity and expression.

Oregon has joined the national backlash.

Gov. Kate Brown, the nation's first openly bisexual governor, said she's "appalled" by the new North Carolina law, which has been blasted by more than 90 prominent businesses, including Facebook, Apple and American Airlines.

Portland on Wednesday placed a temporary ban on city-funded travel for public employees to North Carolina, following similar steps taken in places such as San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington state and Vermont.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCory called the travel bans "political theater."

 The fate of North Carolina's law could be determined in Virginia, where a school board ordered a high school student out of the boys' room.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond could rule any day now in the case of Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male. Grimm says he has to take a "walk of shame" every time he uses a restroom at Gloucester High School.

North Carolina plaintiffs are making similar discrimination claims while suing their state's new law, which directs schools and government agencies to designate group bathrooms based on biological sex.

 Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed legislation he said would legalize discrimination of the LGBT community.

The Democratic governor made the announcement Wednesday during a radio appearance on WTOP.

The measure would prohibit the state from punishing religious groups that refuse services related to gay marriages. Republican supporters said it would protect people from expressing their religious beliefs.

Opponents assailed it as an attack on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.

Republican-backed measures related to LGBT rights recently have attracted fierce national push back from large corporations in Georgia and North Carolina. Georgia GOP Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill similar to Virginia's earlier this week.

But the fight in Virginia has received significantly less attention, thanks largely to McAuliffe's repeated promises to veto the bill.

Updated: 3/30

(Associated Press):

Atlanta city leaders are asking the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte after North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation seen as limiting LGBT protections.

The City Council introduced a resolution Tuesday asking the NBA to move the game to Atlanta after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law critics called discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The North Carolina law prevents Charlotte and other local governments from approving LGBT protections at restaurants, hotels and stores.

Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray said in a statement that officials are concerned about the legislation and continue hearing about potential event cancellations.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement that the league is hopeful Charlotte and North Carolina can work through their differences long before the game.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says Attorney General Roy Cooper used a flawed legal argument in deciding not to defend a new law that limits how local governments can pass rules designed to protect LGBT citizens.

McCrory released a video late Tuesday that also explained further his decision to sign the law, now being criticized by dozens of corporate CEOs and the subject of a federal lawsuit.

Cooper said earlier Tuesday he wouldn't defend the law largely because it conflicts with anti-discrimination policies in his office and in another state department. The governor says the law didn't change the attorney general's internal policies and "is inventing conflict that simply doesn't exist." He urged Cooper to reconsider his decision.

McCrory says while the bill wasn't perfect, it provided privacy protections in public restrooms and locker rooms that people expect.

The chief executives running dozens of big technology, biotech and financial companies are urging North Carolina officials to repeal a new state law preventing local governments from expanding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The letter released Tuesday by gay rights advocates is signed by corporate chieftains including IBM CEO Virginia Rometty, Apple head Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

The letter urges Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders to repeal the law introduced and passed in a one-day special legislative session last week. The General Assembly meets again next month.

The law requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their birth certificates. The law also makes clear local measures can't expand anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.

A statewide organization that worked to get Charlotte's nondiscrimination ordinance overturned by the state legislature says hundreds of North Carolina businesses support the new state law but that some are afraid of retaliation if they make that support public.

In a press release Tuesday, the NC Values Coalition said bullying from the LGBT community has some business owners afraid for the well-being of their businesses and families if they speak out. The release did not offer any examples to back up that claim.

Spokeswoman Kami Mueller said that precedent has been set in other states for businesses owners to have reasonable fear if they speak in support of the state law.

The release did have the names of 17 businesses that were willing to be identified as supporting the new law.

A top legislative Republican says North Carolina's Democratic attorney general should resign if he won't defend a far-reaching new state law that in part voids Charlotte's anti-discrimination ordinance.

Senate Leader Phil Berger said Tuesday that Attorney General Roy Cooper appears to be pandering to left-wing backers as he runs for governor against incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. Berger says Cooper's campaigning is making it impossible for him to fulfill his duties as attorney general.

Berger issued a statement after Cooper said he won't defend in court the new state law that prevents local governments from adopting anti-discrimination measures for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Cooper says in response to Berger's comments that he's doing his job and will keep doing it.

North Carolina's Democratic attorney general is commending Georgia's Republican governor for vetoing a piece of legislation that critics have called discriminatory.

Attorney General Roy Cooper said at a news conference Tuesday that Gov. Nathan Deal "stepped up" on Monday when he rejected a "religious freedom" bill. Cooper said Deal recognized the negative economic impact it would have Georgia if he signed the legislation.

Many corporations have spoken out against the bill in Georgia and the new law in North Carolina. The North Carolina bill prevents Charlotte and other local governments from approving protections for LGBT people.

The Georgia bill was modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. People claiming their religious freedoms are burdened could force state and local governments to prove a "compelling" interest in enforcing laws that conflict with their beliefs.

A spokesman for North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is criticizing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he banned nonessential publicly funded travel to North Carolina.

McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said Tuesday that Cuomo's move shows "hypocrisy and demagoguery." He questioned whether the Democrat would ask the Syracuse University basketball team to boycott the upcoming Final Four because it is hosted by Houston, where voters last year defeated a non-discrimination ordinance.

As a private university, Syracuse would not be subject to a state travel ban even if one existed.

Ellis also noted that Cuomo last year visited Cuba, a country that he says has a "deplorable" human rights record.

Cuomo had called North Carolina's action "misguided" and discriminatory.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has barred non-essential state-funded travel to North Carolina because of the state's new law.

Inslee announced the travel ban Tuesday and praised Washington's law that requires buildings open to the public to allow transgender people to use the bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

An attempt to reverse Washington's rule in the state Legislature this year was voted down in the Republican-controlled Senate. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Monday banned city employee travel to North Carolina.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is also banning all non-essential state travel to North Carolina in protest of the law.

The Democratic governor on Tuesday joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in banning non-essential state travel by state workers. Extraordinary circumstances may be appealed to the administration secretary.

Shumlin called North Carolina's law "an absolute disgrace" and hopes other states will join Vermont and New York in applying pressure on the state to repeal the law.

3/29:

(Associated Press)

North Carolina's attorney general says he won't defend in court a new state law preventing Charlotte and other local governments from approving protections for LGBT citizens at restaurants, hotels and stores.

Democrat Roy Cooper made the announcement Tuesday, a day after gay rights advocates sued the state to seek to overturn the law. The federal lawsuit lists Cooper among the defendants because of his official position, but he opposes the law and wants it repealed.

The Republican-led legislature and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory approved the law last week. They say Charlotte went too far with a local ordinance allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their preference. The law also addresses bathroom use in schools and state agencies.  Cooper is the Democratic candidate for Governor challenging McCrory in November.

Opponents of a new North Carolina law blocking Charlotte and other local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules and requiring students to use bathrooms assigned to their biological sex have sued in federal court.

Two transgender people, a law school professor and civil liberties groups filed the lawsuit Monday morning. They want the new law to be declared unconstitutional. They also want to prevent its enforcement.

They say the law, approved last week by the legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, discriminates against transgender individuals. Corporations have criticized the law, but McCrory and allies defend it as providing uniform rules across the state. The legislature met in special session last Wednesday to pass the law in response to a Charlotte ordinance that allowed transgender people to use restrooms aligned with their gender identity.

The federal lawsuit challenging a new North Carolina law that halts Charlotte's anti-discrimination rules and directs where transgender students must use the bathroom says the measure specifically singles out LGBT people for "disfavored treatment."

The lawsuit also criticizes members of the General Assembly for their arguments that Charlotte's new ordinance needed to be overturned to protect women and children. The ordinance allowed transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity.

A transgender man who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit says the litigation is much more than using the men's restroom.

Joaquin Carcano spoke at a Raleigh news conference Monday. Carcano says the litigation is about upholding the dignity, respect and value of transgender people.

Carcano is an employee at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which also must comply with the new law that directs where transgender people can use the bathroom.

Another plaintiff is North Carolina Central University professor Angela Gilmore, who lives with her wife in Durham. Gilmore says the law makes them feel less welcome in North Carolina.

North Carolina's legislative leaders say they're confident a court will find the General Assembly acted lawfully.

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore released a statement Monday, hours after civil liberties groups and University of North Carolina workers and a student sued in federal court to overturn the new state law.

Moore and Berger say the lawsuit takes the debate out of the hands of voters and seeks what they call a "previously undiscovered" legal right for men to use women's bathrooms and locker rooms.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says he believes there is a coordinated national campaign to discredit the state's new law.

In Georgia, Republican Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday vetoed a measure that gay rights groups also opposed. They said it would have protected business owners who discriminated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

McCrory, who is also a Republican, said there was no connection between the two measures.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr told The Associated Press on Monday after a Raleigh-area event that he's been out of the country and knows little about the law. But he says the law is a state matter and doesn't involve federal issues.

Burr is running for re-election this year against Democratic nominee Deborah Ross, who has publicly opposed the law she says makes the "state less welcoming to new residents and businesses."

Some of the roughly 20,000 retail and interior-design companies that attend the twice-a-year High Point furniture market say they won't travel to the North Carolina city next month because of the law.

The taxpayer-supported High Point Market Authority said Monday that dozens of buyers have said their employees won't attend to shop the new offerings of manufacturers and wholesalers. Opponents of the law also are on social media calling for a boycott of the market, which has an annual statewide economic impact of $5 billion.

High Point Market Authority CEO Tom Conley says the impact of a threatened boycott won't be known for weeks or months. He says some legislators have been asked about the backlash the law could have on the market.

Technology giants Apple, Google and Facebook are among a dozen big companies or their top executives who have objected to the law.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray have banned nonessential publically funded travel to North Carolina in response to the bill.

Cuomo and Murray issued executive orders Monday saying the bans would take effect immediately.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee made the same move Friday.

In a statement, the Democratic governor said New York "will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past."

Original Post:

(Jeremy Loeb)

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina is preparing litigation against the state over a recent bill blocking towns and cities from passing anti-discrimination measures.  Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2 late Wednesday night, several hours after the legislature gave final approval during a one-day special session lawmakers called to address the issue.   The bill was crafted in response to a Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance that was set to take effect April 1st giving broad protections to the LGBT community.  Republicans objected to a part of that ordinance giving transgender people the right to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity, saying sexual predators could have used the measure to prey on women and children. 

But HB2 went far beyond stripping Charlotte of that rule, effectively preventing any other towns and cities from doing the same and setting a statewide non-discrimination policy that excluded sexual orientation and gender identity.  Senator Terry Van Duyn, Democrat of Buncombe County, attempted to amend the bill to include those criteria, but the effort was shot down.  After some House Democrats crossed party lines to vote for the bill, all Senate Democrats later walked off the floor in protest where it was given final approval and later signed by McCrory.

Response to the bill was swift.  Some major corporations, including Red Hat, American Airlines, IBM and Paypal, have spoken out against it.  The NCAA also said it would be monitoring North Carolina's next steps closely.  Protests in Raleigh and Asheville drew hundreds. 

Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of NC says the group is preparing a legal challenge.  She says the bill was born out of animus towards the LGBT community and could put the state at risk of losing Title IX funding.  You can hear her full comments in the interview above.

Frayda Bluestein of the UNC School of Government has written extensively on the power structure that exists between North Carolina's legislature and local municipalities.  She says the General Assembly was well within its authority to preempt Charlotte's ordinance.  But she says whether the GA acted constitutionally is a separate matter.  So whether or not a lawsuit could succeed will depend on what grounds the bill is being challenged on, and will then be up to the courts.