Listen, short-sighted, ignorant, North Carolina legislators; major entrepreneurs are taking note of your decision-making abilities when faced with what is a simple choice — casting aside marriage amendment bills that only encourage businesses to leave — taking away existing jobs — and certainly discouraging others to come to our state. Chris Hughes, the co-founder of Facebook, is telling you what most of you already know – this amendment is BAD FOR BUSINESS. Equality NC published this open letter from Hughes,  a native of Hickory, NC.

September 9, 2011

An Open Letter to the North Carolina General Assembly:

I’m writing today to express my deep concern and fervent opposition to the proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment, SB106/HB777.

As the co-founder of Facebook, I have some experience with the challenges of attracting the kind of driven, dynamic and diverse employees it takes to build a fledgling start-up into a full- fledged economic success story.

Companies like Facebook, Google and Apple are the future of our global economy. But the proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment signals to these and other major employers, as well as their mobile, educated employees, that North Carolina does not welcome the diverse workforce that any state needs to compete in the international marketplace.

In short, this amendment is bad for business, bad for the perception of my home state on the national stage, and a far cry from job-creating legislation that North Carolina lawmakers should be focused on.

But the negative business impact is far from the only harm of this amendment. Growing up in a conservative atmosphere in Hickory, North Carolina, I felt first-hand the stigma of being different in a Southern state—a feeling that made it clear to me that I was not welcome in North Carolina.

The proposed discriminatory legislation will only perpetuate this stigma for a new generation of creative, talented youth, uninterested in second-class citizenship in a state they call home. Gay and lesbian North Carolinians work hard, contribute to society, and want to protect their families like everyone else. Their families deserve the same respect and the same treatment as everyone else, and they should not be exposed to the derogatory and harmful anti-gay rhetoric that inevitability accompanies these kinds of campaigns. North Carolina deserves better than that.

The next Facebook or Apple or Google could be created by another North Carolinian. Be mindful of how you treat them and their families.

Chris Hughes Co-founder of Facebook and North Carolina native

Hughes is also putting his money where his mouth is:

Because there could not be a more critical time to support the work of Equality NC, my fiancé, Sean Eldridge, and I have pledged to donate $10 for each person who likes Equality NC’s page on Facebook – up to $10,000 – to support the work of the organization between now and Tuesday. We hope that others will join us and contribute what they can of their time, energy, and resources to help defeat this anti-gay measure. Fuzzy photo of the WTC taken with my Palm VIIx on July 11, 2001, while on a business trip. I almost deleted them at the time, never crossing my mind that the Twin Towers would be destroyed two months later.

Pro-amendment politicians: you are on the wrong side of history, and place our great state in even more economic peril because of your inability to place your personal animus toward LGBTs aside for the good of North Carolina. Lawmakers – get back to work and stop wasting taxpayer time on finding a way to enshrine bigotry in our constitution. You are an embarrassment, affiliating yourselves with the likes of terminal homophobe and amendment sponsor Sen. James Forrester.

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NOTE: On Tues. Sept. 13 at 11:30 AM: NC Business Leaders To Hold Press Conference Announcing Opposition To Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment:

Fearing their concerns about a proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment’s economic harms have fallen on deaf ears, business leaders from across the state will come together to publicly announce their opposition to the proposed legislation, Tuesday, September 13, at 11:30 a.m., at a press conference from the North Carolina General Assembly legislative building (Press Conference Room, 16 West Jones St., downtown Raleigh, NC).

Hosted by Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), the press conference will coincide with a special legislative session during which state lawmakers are predicted to vote on HB777/SB106, “the anti-gay constitutional amendment.” As proposed, the amendment would write directly into the state constitution a ban on same-sex marriage (as state statute already does), prohibit civil unions, and could strip domestic partner benefits from same- and opposite-sex couples.

The press conference comes as a direct response to claims from an August 30, press conference, hosted by N.C. Republican House leaders, House Majority Leader Rep. Paul Stam and Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Dale Folwell, during which both asserted that nothing in the amendment would impact private industry. The media event will also challenge recent statements made by Tami Fitzgerald, of the newly-formed conservative group, the “N.C. Values Coalition,” in the September 9, Raleigh News and Observer, that this legislation, which would strip public domestic partner benefits, jeopardize private businesses’ ability to provide their own domestic partner employer benefits, hinder recruiting of the talented workers, and launch a divisive 14-month ballot campaign, is somehow “A Plus for N.C. Business.”