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Can strong gay rights laws be an economic development tool? A  group of state legislators in Connecticut is trying to find out with a letter asking the Bank of America to consider relocating from Charlotte, N.C.

Brian Thomas Moynihan, the chief executive of the banking giant, has called on North Carolina to repeal a law that bars municipalities from adopting ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. It also effectively bars transgendered persons from public restrooms by requiring they use the restroom of the gender on their birth certificate.

In a letter drafted by the co-chairs of the Banking Committee and signed by House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz and three dozen others, the legislators say they hope Moynihan is successful.

But they also invite him to move to Connecticut, where Bank of America already is an employer.

“Not only is Connecticut serious about our commitment to the financial sector, but we are also serious about our commitment to a just and tolerant society,” the legislators wrote in a letter to Moynihan. “Our laws offer full protections for your LGBT workforce.”

Rep. Matthew Lesser, D-Middletown, and Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, the banking co-chairs said they would not rule out making similar overtures to other major North Carolina institutions, such as Wells Fargo and PayPal.

“We invite Bank of America to consider moving to a state that shares its social values and supports its LGBT workforce,” Lesser said. “We welcome Bank of America and major North Carolina financial institutions threatened by their state’s reckless actions.”

 “If the State of North Carolina insists on standing on the wrong side of history by keeping this law on the books, we are more than happy to invite Bank of America to join us in Connecticut, where we are proud to stand with the LGBT community,” Winfield said.

The signatories were Democrats with the exception of two House Republicans, Jesse MacLachlan of Westbrook and John Scott of Groton.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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