- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Passage of a law that rolls back protections for gay and transgender people in North Carolina has prompted PayPal to abandon plans of opening a global operations center in Charlotte, the payment processor said Tuesday.

When PayPal announced plans to open shop in Charlotte’s University City area last month, the company said it planned to hire over 400 employees and invest $3.6 million in its new facility. In the wake of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to sign a law decried by activists as being among the most extreme anti-LGBT measures in the country, however, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman on Tuesday said he’s called the deal off.

“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,” Mr. Schulman said in a statement.

“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.”

The legislation that spawned PayPal’s decision to bail was hastily drafted by state lawmakers last month after city officials in Charlotte passed a measure protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from being discriminated against by businesses. That ordinance was scheduled to go on the books April 1, but the Republican-led legislature in Raleigh rushed to pass a state law first that prevents municipalities from instituting anti-discrimination measures of their own, lacks protections for LGBT persons and forces transgender people to use bathrooms that differ from their gender identity.

Passage of the state law last month had already led movie studios including A+E Networks and 21st Century Fox to consider shooting locations outside of North Carolina for future projects, and the CEOs of more than 120 major companies urged Gov. McCrory to repeal the legislation in a letter last week.

On Tuesday, Republicans and Democrats alike were left questioning the governor’s decision to sign House Bill 2 into law.

“These are new, better paying jobs North Carolina won’t get because Governor McCrory has put his political ideology above all else,” said North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat who plans on challenging the governor in November’s election. “It’s time to reverse course and take actions to undo the damage,” he told the Charlotte Observer.

“We need to be listening when these businesses have these kind of concerns,” added State Sen. Jeff Tarte, a Republican who voted in favor of the bill. “We need to get around the table and understand what their real concerns are.”

PayPal’s CEO said Tuesday that the company hopes to work with the LGBT community in North Carolina towards overturning HB2 while it looks for an alternative location for the planned operations center.

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