NC_logoSC_logoVA_logo MEDIA CONTACTS:FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2015 Chris Sgro, Executive Director, Equality NC, (919) 720-8204, [email protected] Jeff Ayers, Board Chair, SC Equality, (803) 546-9035, [email protected] Kirsten Bokenkamp, Communications Director, Equality Virginia, [email protected] On Thursday, January 29th, three southern lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations in North Carolina (Equality NC), South Carolina (SC Equality), and Virginia (Equality Virginia) will launch “Equality Means Business,” a coordinated, multistate campaign designed to showcase businesses that know how vital LGBT employees and customers are to their success in a modern economy. Media are invited to attend “Equality Means Business” launch events across the three states. In today’s economy, the majority of businesses know that opening their doors to LGBT clients and customers as well as ensuring their LGBT employees are not discriminated against is not only the right thing to do, but is also good for business.  With the goals of improving each state’s reputation as a welcoming place to live, work, and visit - as well as improving the lives of the more than 500,000 LGBT people who call these states home – Equality Means Business recognizes businesses that have policies to protect their LGBT employees from discrimination and have also pledged to welcome LGBT customers and clients. In anticipation of the January 29th launch events, Equality NC, SC Equality, and Equality Virginia released the following joint statement, highlighting a business effort the organizations believe is generating much-needed momentum for LGBT equality in the South. Currently, there is no statewide law in place in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Virginia to prohibit discrimination in employment or public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. “In North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, from the historic cobblestone streets of Alexandria, to the financial districts of Charlotte, to the bustling waterfront of Charleston, we’ve witnessed businesses taking the lead in this historic moment for LGBT equality. Through Equality Means Business, we are proud to highlight businesses that have commonsense policies in place to ensure their doors are open to LGBT clients, customers, and employees.  Equality Means Business is also a tool for consumers to use if they want to ensure their patronage is supporting a business – or any place of public accommodation –  that is welcoming to LGBT people.”  Supporting Quotes: “We are thrilled to work with equality groups in North Carolina and South Carolina to launch this exciting program,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia. “Businesses that welcome LGBT customers and clients and take a stand for workplace non-discrimination deserve to be recognized for moving Virginia, the region, and indeed the whole country in the right direction.” "Equality is good for business, and businesses that support equality have a tremendous impact on the landscape of South Carolina," said Jeff Ayers, Interim Executive Director of South Carolina Equality. "By being inclusive in their policies, protecting their employees from discrimination, and providing quality goods and services to all customers, these businesses make South Carolina a better place to live and work. They're growing our state and showing our communities and neighbors that equal means everyone." “While the last year has seen historic gains for the nation, much of the South, and certainly right here in the Tarheel State, there remains great work to be done if we are to achieve full equality, both lived and legal,” said Chris Sgro, executive director, Equality NC.  “In North Carolina, you can still be fired for being gay or transgender. Right now, the North Carolina General Assembly is considering proposals to allow religious exceptions for business owners, service providers, and  even government officials who want to discriminate against LGBT citizens and customers. We know, however, that this is not where the people of North Carolina or members of its business community stand.” As part of this coordinated launch, events will be held on Thursday, Jan. 29 at:  
DECO 5:30-6:30 pm 16 W Hargett St Raleigh, NC 27601 REVOLVE 6:00 - 7:00 pm 1222 East Boulevard Charlotte, NC 28203
Artizan Art Gallery 5:30-6:30 pm 1217 Bull Street Columbia, SC 29201
Decorum - The Palace Station and Shops 11:00 am 301 W 21st Street Norfolk, VA 23517 Nacho Mama's 5:30-6:30 pm 3449 W Cary Street Richmond, VA 23221
        For more information about Equality NC’s program, visit: www.equalitync.org/business For more information about SC Equality’s program, visit: www.scequality.org/business For more information about Equality Virginia’s program, visit: www.equalityvirginia.org/EMB --###--