CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- One of North Carolina's most prominent business leaders has criticized the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage by comparing it to Jim Crow laws.

The Charlotte Observer reports ( ) that Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers made the remarks Friday at a gathering of business executives.

Rogers says if the amendment is approved, it would hinder the ability of North Carolina businesses to attract employees and customers from around the globe.

A Fortune 500 company with over $62 billion in assets, Duke currently serves roughly 4 million customers. The company offers domestic partnership benefits to its employees, who would not be affected by the amendment.

Supporters say the amendment would protect the traditional institution of marriage from being redefined by a court. The referendum will be held May 8.

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