Amendment One raises debate about businesses choosing N.C.

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - People from across the state are finding venues to voice their concerns about what Amendment One could mean for North Carolina's future.

Many peoplesaid they feel North Carolina's decision to ban same-sex marriage is going to hurt the state's progressive image and that businesses are going to think twice about coming here or staying here.

One small business owner, Christy Zeigler, said she's moving her business, Pin It Down, elsewhere.  She said she's straight, Christian and leaving North Carolina now. 

"I'm serious. We're moving this year,” she said. “This was the last straw. We are moving. We are putting the house on the market and we are moving."

And that's what former politicians Harvey Gantt, Richard Vinroot and Edwin Peacock III and Bank of America executive Cathy Bessant said would happen -- that if Amendment One passed, businesses would think twice about North Carolina. 

Peacock even ran an ad saying, "It is bad for business."

But others aren't so sure Amendment One will scare off companies.

UNC Charlotte professor Carol Swartz said companies care about money more than marriage. 

"If you look at what attracts businesses to an area, it's things like the cost of doing business here, whether there's a lot of regulation, the level of taxes, the cost of energy,” she said.

N.C. Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory suggested looking at South Carolina, which already has a marriage law. 

"Right now, South Carolina is beating us in economic development because they have a lower income tax, lower gas tax, lower corporate tax,” he said.

The car seat maker Britax has a headquarters here and is sensitive to same-sex couples. One of its executives, Ken Wittenauer, said companies will probably still choose North Carolina, but talented workers may not. 

In an emailed statement, he said: "My impression is that although it will not likely prevent companies from relocating to Charlotte or N.C., it will create barriers for individuals who are considering employment opportunities here.

"I think that talented resources that have a variety of options will not choose N.C. This is especially impactful due to the timing of the amendment in N.C. Five or ten years ago, when a number of states rushed to pass similar amendments, there was little expectation that other states would move to expand marriage rights. Now that at least six states have expanded marriage rights, including our nation’s Capital, this amendment in N.C. looks especially repressive and narrow minded. 

"At least 50 major corporations in N.C. have domestic partner benefits for that very reason -- to attract talent at the highest level regardless of race, gender, religious or sexual orientation or gender identity."