Apple’s decision to open a new HQ in North Carolina is reportedly close to being a “done deal,” waiting only for the right incentives package to be passed.
But one potential spanner in the works could be the area’s history of anti-LGBT laws. Most infamous of these is the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which made it law for people to use the public restrooms and changing rooms which correspond with their birth certificate sex, as opposed to their self-identified gender.
The law was signed in by anti-LGBT Republican governor Pat McCrory in 2016, although the legislation was later partly repealed by newly-elected Democratic governor Roy Cooper.
At the time, however, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act led to companies like PayPal and Deutsche Bank staging a boycott. The NBA, NCAA, and Atlantic Coast Conference also refused to hold championships in the state until the law was taken off the books.
Nonetheless, North Carolina is still criticized for not having proper protections in place to stop discrimination against LGBT people in areas like employment, housing, or education.
LGBT publication The Advocate reports that gay rights activists are “livid” about the possibility that Apple may be considering moving to the area. While the report mainly appears to cite a relatively small group of disgruntled Twitter users, it could nonetheless blow up into something bigger if Apple does indeed make the news official.
Tim Cook’s support of LGBT rights
Tim Cook famously came out as gay several years ago, and he has been outspoken about LGBT rights since then. He has even had an LGBT anti-discrimination bill being named after him, and been publicly critical of discriminatory laws that “rationalize injustice.”
Alongside the moral argument against such laws, Cook — and Apple — have also made a business case against discrimination. For example, in one case Apple joined 400 other companies in telling the U.S. Supreme Court that the confusing array of laws about gay marriage in some places causes, “significant burdens on employers and their employees — making it increasingly hard to conduct business.”
The new Apple headquarters is reported to bring up to 10,000 jobs to North Carolina. That includes major investment in its Research Triangle Park, close to the Univerisity of North Carolina, NC State and Cook’s former Duke University. Apple’s total investment would likely be between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, with jobs — predominantly in R&D — paying an average of $130,000 per year.
One government source was quoted as saying that this is, “by far the biggest project this state’s ever seen as far as average salaries, number of jobs.”