E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt said Bruce Springsteen and the band canceled their North Carolina concert because of the state's new law blocking anti-discrimination rules for the LGBT community, the kind of legislation that's like an "evil virus" spreading around the U.S.
Van Zandt told The Associated Press Friday night the decision was made not to perform Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina, because of the law, which critics say discriminates against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Springsteen and the band considered, but ultimately rejected, other options, said Van Zandt, who posthumously inducted songwriter Bert Berns into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
"We always try to find middle ground, and we considered it," he said. "Should we go there and make a statement from the stage? You consider those things, and then you realize that's just playing into their hands. That's not going to hurt enough — you need to hurt them economically," he said.
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In a statement on his website Friday, Springsteen said North Carolina's law "is an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress."
Later, Springsteen used his Facebook page to urge followers to contact lawmakers, adding a link to find them.
Van Zandt said such legislation must be challenged.
"This sort of thing is spreading like an evil virus around the country," he said. "We felt we better stop this, we should try and stop this early, and hopefully other people will rise up and join us."
Van Zandt said he considers it anti-American to discriminate against people. "Whether it's women, whether it's gay, transgender, there's no difference," he said. "It was very important to for us to take a stand early in this before it starts to spread all over the place."
People who bought tickets to the Greensboro concert will get refunds.