@NCCapitol

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Business, political leaders engage in back and forth over HB2

Posted March 29, 2016 6:39 p.m. EDT
Updated March 30, 2016 5:21 a.m. EDT

— Gov. Pat McCrory found himself on the defensive for another day Tuesday after Attorney General Roy Cooper said his office would not defend the state's new anti-discrimination law against court challenges.

Cooper, a Democrat, is running against McCrory in the 2016 gubernatorial election, and state Sen. Phil Berger saw politics in Cooper's stance.

"His zeal for pandering for the extreme left’s money and agenda in his race for governor is making it impossible for him to fulfill his duties as attorney general – and he should resign immediately," Berger said in a statement.

McCrory stopped short of that request, but he urged Cooper to reconsider.

"When you are the state’s lawyer, you are a lawyer first and a politician second," McCrory said in a video posted to YouTube Tuesday afternoon. "I encourage the Attorney General to reconsider his flawed logic. I am fulfilling my oath of office and we expect him to do the same."

The back-and-forth over the so-called "bathroom bill" continued with groups on either side releasing lists of business supporters.

North Carolina Values Coalition spokeswoman Tami Fitzgerald said her group had commitments from more than 300 North Carolina business owners.

"Hundreds of North Carolina business owners have signed on to a letter thanking Governor Pat McCrory and the General Assembly for passing a law affirming the privacy and safety of businesses, women and children to live and work in accordance with their deeply held beliefs. These businesses support and applaud Governor McCrory for supporting women and children over being politically correct," the organization's statement read.

The Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC countered with their own letter to McCrory, signed by CEOs of companies including Apple, Intel, Pfizer and Yahoo, urging the governor to press for a repeal of the law.

"We are disappointed in your decision to sign this discriminatory legislation into law. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business," the CEOs wrote.

Closer to home Pastor Patrick Wooden, of Raleigh's Upper Room Church of God in Christ, called the law "common sense" and said he doesn't understand why political and business supporters have not been more vocal.

"No one can make a truthful argument that it discriminates against anyone," Wooden said. "It hasn’t changed anything.

"North Carolina's a state that has actively come out and said we think it's a good idea for men to use the mens' room and women to use the womens' room ... because everybody knows that a transgendered male is a female and a transgendered female is a male."

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, whose city's ordinance prompted the new law, said she was surprised that, in undoing a bathroom provision that allowed people to use the room of their gender identity, lawmakers would remove all legal protections for LGBT people across the state.

"I will not apologize for standing up for non-discrimination," Roberts said. "I believe that every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and that they should not be turned away from restaurants and hotels because someone doesn't believe in them as a person."

Tuesday night, hundreds of protesters shut down Franklin Street in Chapel Hill as they gathered to speak out against House Bill 2.