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Pressure Mounting on North Carolina Over Its Religious Freedom Bill

Pat McCrory
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is faces mounting pressure to repeal a law that prohibits transgender bathrooms in the state. (Reuters photo)

With his state demonized for enacting a law that requires all people to use bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificates, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory isn't just standing there, taking the blows.

"There's no doubt there is a well-coordinated, national campaign to smear our state's reputation after we passed a common-sense law to ensure no government can take away our basic expectations of privacy in bathrooms, locker rooms and showers," McCrory's spokesman, Josh Ellis, said.

Amid an avalanche of criticism from corporate entities, the Democrat mayors of San Francisco and Seattle have joined the governors of New York and Washington in prohibiting all "non-essential" travel to North Carolina for their government employees.

"In New York, we believe that all people—regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation—deserve the same rights and protections under the law," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "From Stonewall to marriage equality, our state has been a beacon of hope and equality for the LGBT community, and we will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past. As long as there is a law in North Carolina that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT people, I am barring non-essential state travel to that state."

Tuesday morning, PayPal announced it was pulling a processing facility out of North Carolina, resulting in the loss of about 400 jobs. Several other corporations have insisted they will do the same if the law isn't reversed.

But those could be the least of North Carolina's troubles.

The New York Times has reported that the Tar Heel State faces the loss of billions of dollars in federal funding. It further reported the departments of Transportation, Education, and Housing and Urban Development are undertaking active reviews of the North Carolina law to determine whether it is a violation of civil rights:

Cutting off any federal money—or even simply threatening to do so—would put major new pressure on North Carolina to repeal the law, which eliminated local protections for gay and transgender people and restricted which bathrooms transgender people can use. A loss of federal money could send the state into a budget crisis and jeopardize services that are central to daily life.

Although experts said such a drastic step was unlikely, at least immediately, the administration's review puts North Carolina on notice that the new law could have financial consequences. Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina had assured residents that the law would not jeopardize federal money for education.

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