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NC Governor Takes Step Back From 'Religious Freedom' Law

Facing intense backlash from both the public and business interests,  Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina has walked back some of his support of legislation that banned anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people.

In an executive order signed April 12, the governor said he was expanding protections for state employees, which would stop workers from being fired for simply being gay or transgender. He added that he would also seek legislation restoring the right to sue for discrimination, reported The New York Times.

However, most of the law – including the most controversial provision which barred transgender people from using bathrooms of a gender other than the one listed on their birth certificate – was left intact.

Critics say McCrory's actions are not nearly enough to repair the damage done to the state.

“Governor McCrory’s executive order is a day late and a veto short,” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat and McCrory’s gubernatorial opponent this fall, said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. 

“The sweeping discrimination law he signed has already cost North Carolina hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue. I’m glad Governor McCrory has finally acknowledged the great damage his legislation has done, but he needs to do much more.”

Following the passage of the law, business interests have started to turn away from North Carolina in droves.

“We’ve had some companies choose to suspend their site selection search in North Carolina and consequently in Wake County,” Adrienne Cole, executive director of Wake County Economic Development told News and Observer. “Some have said they’re taking North Carolina off the list, others have said they’re postponing things to see what happens.”

German-based Deutsche Bank as well as credit company PayPal have both announced they are cancelling scheduled expansions into the North Carolina, possibly costing the state hundreds of proposed jobs, reported News and Observer.

Still, proponents of the law in the state legislature have held firm in their support, even in the face of the overwhelming criticism. 

State House Speaker, Republican Rep. Tim Moore of North Carolina said that the legislation has “been unfairly reported and maligned by political activists, according to the Washington Post.

Sources: The New York Times, News and Observer, Washington Post / Photo credit: Ray Whitehouse via The New York Times

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