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State Lawmakers Across the Country Are Writing Discrimination into Law: Part 2: Businesses and Citizens React

Lawmakers across the country are introducing, and in some cases passing, discriminatory laws aimed at people in the LGBTQ community.

Activists on both sides of the issue have been vocal. Many businesses have threatened to refuse to be involved in any state that passes these laws.

In September 2015, a religious freedom rally was held in Nashville at the state Capitol. According to The Tennessean, about 400 people attended the rally. The main message of the rally, aimed at evangelical Christians across the country, was that they must get more active in public policy debate to influence lawmakers. Speakers at the rally included Rafael Cruz, father of Ted Cruz, Joe Davis, husband of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis who gained notoriety for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Republican lawmakers across the state attended the rally and spoke. Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, touted their “natural marriage” bill. The lawmakers in attendance said they would find a way around the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage across the country.

It is a mistake to assume that this rally represents a small and powerless constituency in the U.S. Franklin Graham is visiting many states in the country for his Decision America Tour. On May 3, 2016 the tour made a stop in Nashville. Graham told thousands in attendance that Christians must be active in political life, vote, and run for office.

 

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Shelly Mays/The Tennessean

The Tennessean reported that “at one point, Graham asked them to join hands and confess aloud the country’s sins, including abortion, racism and the legalization of same-sex marriage. A low murmur filled the plaza. While sin remained a focus of the prayers, Franklin Graham also emphasized the redemption available through the belief in Jesus.”

Graham said, “Take your communities back. The devil’s got them. Let’s get them back. There’s more of us than there is of them. We can just not afford to be silent anymore. We may not have another opportunity as a nation like this again, so you’ve got to vote.”

 

Businesses Aim to Hit Them Where it Hurts: Their Wallets

In contrast, the backlash against these discriminatory laws by citizens and business owners has been widespread.

In Mississippi, May 5, 2016, people from across the country gathered at the state Capitol and marched to the Governor’s mansion in protest of the Religious Accommodations Law HB 1523 scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2016.

Ben Jealous, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, as quoted by Fox10TV, said, “This bill is not about religious freedom. It is antithetical to the teachings of every religion especially that of most of us as Christians who were only given one new commandment which was to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Bloomberg reports that companies across the country are forming a “loose” coalition to combat these discriminatory laws.

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As Paul Blumenthal of The Huffington Post points out, many of the businesses that are now forming that loose coalition against these discriminatory laws also contributed to the election of the Republicans who are writing them.

According to Blumenthal, many major corporations made contributions to the Republican State Leadership Committee, a committee committed to the election of Republicans. The committee has enjoyed great success in their efforts. The Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court directly helped the RSLC’s ability to fundraise and to take corporate donations.

Now, those companies that helped get those Republicans elected seem to be experiencing buyer’s remorse.

90 corporations wrote a letter to North Carolina Gov. McCrory opposing HB 2. Many of the signatories to the letter were contributors to the RSLC. Blumenthal reports that Google, Yahoo, Uber, Lyft, Pandora, Citigroup, Microsoft, eBay, General Electric, Oracle, Time Warner Cable, American Express and Twitter executives signed the letter and also contributed to the RSLC.

Bank of America, a contributor to the RSLC, Tweeted about the anti-LGBT HB 2.

Not all of the signatories to the letter were contributors to the RSLC. In the letter the signatories decried the N.C. law as “discriminatory legislation” and told McCrory they were disappointed in his decision to sign the legislation into law. As the letter makes clear, businesses are not fighting these laws purely on the basis of social consciousness. Laws such as these have been proven to be bad for the bottom line.

In an April report by Credit Suisse, they reported that companies who pursue a diverse workforce and support their gay employees perform better in the stock market. The report points to many factors that influence this improved market share, but does find a correlation between an inclusive workplace, production, and profit.

Celebrities and Production Companies Threaten to Pull Out of States with Discriminatory Laws

According to The News&Observer, Lions Gate, Turner Broadcasting, and A&E all plan to drop production in the state of North Carolina because of the discriminatory law passed and signed into law there by Gov. McCrory. That will lead to a loss of revenue for the state.

AMC, which produces The Walking Dead, threatened to leave their shooting location in Georgia when they had an anti-LGBTQ bill ready to be signed by Gov. Nathan Deal (R). Gov. Deal did not sign HB 757 into law.

It is worth noting that many states offer incentives to production companies, and over the course of time some of those states have started to repeal those incentives, and that could also be a contributing factor in some cases for production companies planning to leave states.

Many companies, like Starbucks, that signed onto the letter that was written to McCrory are too entrenched to leave a state over such laws, but production companies are not as tied to the state they choose to operate in, and their objections are likely to be taken more seriously. Revenue generated by the filming of television shows and movies is tremendous. The productions also generate tourism that brings in money to the state.

Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr canceled their shows planned in N.C. due to the discriminatory law passed there.

amNewYork reported that Julianne Moore, Anne Hathaway, and others, signed a petition by the Human Rights Campaign aimed at the proposed law in G.A. threatening to “take their business elsewhere.”

Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, husband and wife performers, canceled a planned show in I.N. and said they would donate proceeds from their University of Indiana show to the HRC. Offerman Tweeted about his opposition to the religious freedom act, Senate Bill 101, up for consideration there in 2015.

Michael Moore, documentary filmmaker, Tweeted that he would not be showing his films in N.C. theaters. While the Tweet got a lot of responses saying that was no real threat, and anti-Moore people said it was a blessing, those reactions are incredibly short sighted. Movies generate jobs and money for the people in the area, and if more people and companies in the industry follow Moore’s lead, that could be devastating to the economy of any area affected.

The organizers of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival held in Manchester T.N. have made a statement against the recent passage of SB 1556 in T.N.

While the organizers of the festival Tweeted they plan to stay in T.N., many festival goers are threatening to boycott the 2016 festival. That would be devastating to the economy of T.N. In a report in The Times Free Press in 2013, the festival was expected to bring over $51 million into the area.

More economic disaster could follow in the form of low tourism from around the world. The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office issued a warning to its citizens about travel in N.C. and M.I. The warning read in part, “The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country. LGBT travelers [sic] may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi. Before traveling please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community.”

In a 2001 report from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, it was noted that international tourism brought in $472.4 million in 1999. A warning of the magnitude put forth by the U.K. could be extremely devastating to any state that finds itself in the international news for discriminating against its citizens.

The HRC reacted to the U.K. warning on Twitter.

Citizens across social media have also been very vocal against these discriminatory laws, to what effect remains to be seen, but they are raising their voices on social platforms such as Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter in opposition to these laws.

Perhaps one of the most well-known Tweets on the subject was from James P. Sheffield, the self-proclaimed “Real Trans Hillbilly of Twitterville.” Sheffield’s Tweet summed up, in less than 140 characters, the absurdity of N.C. HB2, the so-called bathroom law.

 

Your can find the first part of this series here.

Written by KatieFowler

I call middle Tennessee home.
Obtained my Bachelor of Science Degree in TXMD with a minor in Journalism and Art from Middle Tennessee State University, 2012.
Please, contact me at brandedbutterfly@comcast.net with news tips and human interest story ideas. Thank you. Please visit my blog at katiefowlerblog.wordpress.com

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State Lawmakers Across the Country Are Writing Discrimination into Law: Part 2: Businesses and Citizens React