Businesses on both sides of House Bill 2 weigh in on issue

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — While some business owners are criticizing Gov. Pat McCrory (R) for signing off on the controversial House Bill 2, others are coming to his defense.

The bill came in response to an ordinance passed in Charlotte that would have allowed people to use a public restroom based on the gender with which they identify.

House Bill 2, which McCrory signed into law hours after it passed, establishes statewide policies on nondiscrimination but does not carve out protections against discrimination based on sexual identity.

“My hope is that we can come together and communicate on this,” said Ralph Henderson, owner of OmniChannel Productions in Charlotte.

He commended the governor for signing the bill, saying it establishes consistent regulations from one community to another across the state.

“We can set nondiscrimination policies, hiring practices. We can set them for internal HR procedures, and I just think that’s best for businesses,” said Henderson.

On Tuesday, the NC Values Coalition and the Keep NC Safe Coalition said more than 300 businesses have signed on to a letter thanking McCrory and the General Assembly.

“You’ve got a lot of businesses here in North Carolina who support what the General Assembly and the governor did. And, they appreciate Pat McCrory’s leadership in doing this,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition.

About three dozen businesses agreed to be named publicly.

One of the largest on the list is HanesBrands.

But, when CBS North Carolina contacted the company, a spokesman said it was one employee who backed the bill, and that the company’s not taking a position.

“HB2 will not have any effect on HanesBrands very strong anti-discrimination policies and practices,” said spokesman Matt Hall. He said the NC Values Coalition did not contact the company before including it on the list.

Fitzgerald responded, “We removed that person’s name. I think it was an employee.”

Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston in Raleigh was also placed on the list. However, Matthew Horton, the firm’s director of marketing, told CBS North Carolina in an email that an independent contractor supported the bill and “does not speak on behalf of the company.”

He went on to write, “We are an equal opportunity employer and have our own anti-discrimination policies in place.”

Meanwhile, Equality NC and the Human Rights Coalition released a separate list of about 80 business owners opposing the bill, including the heads of Twitter and Facebook.

“What they’re saying is, is that this law is not in any way shape or form good for business. And, they want it repealed,” said Matt Hirschy, director of advancement for Equality NC.

But, Ralph Henderson says he hopes that doesn’t happen.

“For businesses to be able to set their own nondiscrimination policies, I think that’s healthy. And, I think if people would read the bill, they would understand that,” he said.

Henderson said he also supports House Bill 2 because of concerns he had about women’s safety in bathrooms, but Equality NC says those kinds of fears have been unfounded in other states.

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