Billing Connecticut as "welcoming and inclusive" Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wrote North Carolina business owners this week inviting them to relocate their companies here in the wake of a law critics have said is discriminatory toward the LGBT community.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed the legislation last week. He and other proponents of the law focused their attention on an ordinance in Charlotte that allowed transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity.
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The law sends the message that "North Carolina is closed-minded when it comes to human rights and does not celebrate the LGBT community," Malloy said.
"In our state, your employees and customers would not face such institutional discrimination," he said.
McCrory said politicians had "demonized our state for political gain" and that the legislation was written to "protect men, women and children when they use a public restroom, shower or locker room."
"North Carolina has been the target of a vicious, nationwide smear campaign," he said.
Connecticut has had anti-discrimination laws on the books since 1991 and expanded that law to include gender identity or expression in 2011.
In his letter Malloy also took time to tout the state's workforce and quality of life. He said Connecticut has a growing bioscience sector employing more than 50,000 people at 800 companies across the state. And Connecticut has the fifth-highest percentage of science and engineering doctorates in the country.
"In short, beyond our openness and inclusiveness, we have much to offer to your business," Malloy said. "… We would welcome you and your employees in our state, no matter their sexual orientation."
It's not the first time Malloy has tangled with a Republican governor over legislation he thinks is discriminatory. Last year, the governor issued an executive order banning state-paid travel to Indiana after the state's governor, Mike Pence, signed a bill that prohibited state laws that "substantially burden" the ability of someone to follow their religious beliefs.
Critics said the Indiana law would allow institutions to refuse to serve gays and lesbians citing a religious objection.