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Tech titans rise up against anti-LGBT legislation in Miss., N.C.

Sharon Gaudin | April 8, 2016
Companies including PayPal, IBM, Google and Facebook condemn new laws.

In the past few weeks, North Carolina and Mississippi have adopted laws enabling businesses to discriminate against gays and transgender people by those who say serving them would infringe on their religious beliefs.

Some large technology companies have publicly condemned the laws, with one company making a statement by pulling a new business out of North Carolina.

"We are disappointed by the recent events in North Carolina," said Facebook, which has a data center facility in Forest City, N.C., in a posting on the facility's Facebook page. "As a company, Facebook is an open and vocal supporter of equality. We believe in ensuring the rights of LGBT individuals and oppose efforts that discriminate against people on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation."

Late last month, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law House Bill 2, which prevents cities and towns from protecting gays and bisexuals from discrimination, while also preventing transgender people from using restrooms that don't specifically align with their "biological sex."

ibm statement
Screen grab/IBM-Twitter IBM's statement on the Mississippi bill

That was quickly followed this week by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant's signing a similar "religious freedom" law that allows government employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages, while also enabling businesses to deny housing, jobs, and services for adoptions and foster care because of an individual's sexual orientation.

The laws have drawn international headlines, along with praise and outrage across the country.

Several major tech companies, along with other major corporations like PepsiCo and Disney, have come out strongly against the new laws. Online payment giant PayPal took the boldest action by announcing that it is canceling plans to open a new worldwide operations center in Charlotte, N.C. that would have added 400 skilled jobs to the area.

"The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal's mission and culture," the company said on its website. "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."

The company also said that while looking for another location for its operations center, it also will work with the LGBT community in North Carolina to overturn the legislation.

IBM, one of North Carolina's top 20 employers, also responded, tweeting, "IBM is disappointed by passage of #HB2 in NC since it reduces scope of anti-discrimination protections in state."


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