In the months leading up to North Carolina’s vote this month to ban gay marriage, most of the state’s business leaders were conspicuously silent. While some executives spoke out against it as individuals, not one Fortune 500 company based in North Carolina, including Bank of America, Duke Energy, VF Corporation and Lowe’s, opposed it.

But one company did: Replacements Limited, which sells silver, china and glassware, and is based in Greensboro. Its founder and chairman, Bob Page, is gay. The company lobbied legislators, contributed money to causes supporting gay marriage, rented a billboard along the interstate near its headquarters, and sold T-shirts at its showroom. Its experience may explain why no other for-profit company followed its example.

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