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Why San Francisco mayor bans city employees from going to N.C.

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Emery Dalesio/Reuters

(Read caption) People protest outside the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday. North Carolina legislators decided to rein in local governments by approving a bill Wednesday that prevents cities and counties from passing their own anti-discrimination rules. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory later signed the legislation, which dealt a blow to the LGBT movement after success with protections in cities across the country.

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In response to a new anti-LGBT legislation approved by North Carolina lawmakers, San Francisco Mayor, Ed Lee has banned city employees from traveling to North Carolina, unless it is necessary.

San Francisco’s move is the latest backlash against North Carolina’s legislation, joining several organizations and businesses that have also publicly expressed their dissent, aiming to deprive the state of revenue.

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“We are standing united as San Franciscans to condemn North Carolina’s new discriminatory law that turns back the clock on protecting the rights of all Americans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals,” Mayor Lee said in the statement.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed the legislation into law Wednesday, voiding a Charlotte City ordinance that was set to take effect in April. The ordinance – passed by the Charlotte City Council in February – banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and included a provision that allows transgender residents to choose restrooms corresponding to the gender which they identified with.

Advocates of the new law in North Carolina frame the law as a public safety issue, contending that such a measure could allow sexual predators to use women bathrooms and other spaces rendering them unsafe for residents.

“This action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate State legislative intervention which I would support as governor,” said Governor McCrory after Charlotte passed the ordinance last month, the AP reported.

Several corporations including  Apple, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, NBA and others criticized the state's measure. None of these companies said they would take any actions, but the NBA hinted that the measure may affect next year’s All-Star games that are set to take place in Charlotte.   

Some lawmakers opposing the law have already expressed their concerns.

“I have been on the phone all day today with several different business leaders,” Charlotte Mayor, Jennifer Roberts told the Charlotte Business Journal, reported the San Francisco Business Times. “They are greatly concerned for their employees, they’re anxious for their employees.”

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Such measures are increasingly facing scrutiny from businesses and organizations. Last year, Indiana faced similar pressures after it passed a  religious freedom law, discriminating against LGBT, forcing lawmakers to amend the law. Georgia – which is considering a similar measure – is currently under scrutiny. Vox reported that Disney has said that it will stop filming in the state, if the governor signs the legislation into law.

“It’s hard to paint [North Carolina] as business-friendly when it’s taking steps that major businesses criticize,” writes David Graham, a staff writer at The Atlantic, contending that the state may be forced to revisit the measure, to prevent more backlash.

Some advocates of the new legislation are not concerned. Tami Fitzgerald, who is the North Carolina Values Coalition Executive Director said that the backlash is just a way of “ “shamefully bullying” state officials, contending that small business support the law, Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

“North Carolinians should be aware of this so they have the opportunities to be consumers of companies that are congruent with their values,” she said.