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Jonsson writes: "The rushed passage of a bill in North Carolina that includes barring towns and cities from allowing transgender women to use the ladies' room pushes the boundaries of state-sanctioned bigotry, several US corporations, including the National Basketball Association, complained this week."

People protest outside the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday. (photo: Emery P. Dalesio/AP)
People protest outside the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday. (photo: Emery P. Dalesio/AP)


LGBT Rights: Why Republicans and Big Corporations Are on Different Sides

By Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor

27 March 16

 

North Carolina has taken the most aggressive stance so far against the expansion of gender rights. But major corporations are objecting at Republican efforts to curb LGBT rights.

he rushed passage of a bill in North Carolina that includes barring towns and cities from allowing transgender women to use the ladies’ room pushes the boundaries of state-sanctioned bigotry, several US corporations, including the National Basketball Association, complained this week.

For his part, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said the Republican-led legislature called a special session to gut an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte because the local ordinance was dangerous and “defied common sense.”

The moves in conservative states to take a stand against blossoming LGBT rights are in many cases heartfelt and morality-bound, and for many Americans supersede the arguments about impacts on economic development. In other words, if the NBA yanks next year’s All-Star game from Charlotte, as it has suggested it might, it’s a worthy sacrifice in the eyes of North Carolina lawmakers.

In some ways, as the costly backlash to an Indiana religious liberty bill a year ago suggested, taking a stand for religious values in the public square puts the Republican party on an increasingly high-stakes collision course with a core constituency – US corporations, including major sports leagues.

In the past two decades, many US companies have gone from historically cautious to outright activist on social issues in order to appeal to shoppers, especially Millennials, who increasingly buy products that align with their values. And 18 states and 200 towns and cities have added specific LGBT non-discrimination protections. 

With the Wednesday vote, North Carolina has now taken what is widely seen as the most aggressive stance so far against the expansion of gender rights. Meanwhile, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has until May 3 to decide whether to sign a religious liberty bill that’s been decried as discriminatory by the NFL, Disney, and other corporations. Seven other states are now looking at joining Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina in making sure that any transgender person who uses a bathroom not assigned to their sex at birth is punished.

Writing about the building tension, Emory University law professor Tim Holbrook noted on CNN this week that “both Georgia and North Carolina have marketed themselves as being good for business. Indiana apparently was not a big enough canary in the coal mine.”

The producers of the popular AMC channel TV show “Walking Dead” have threatened to pull up stakes in Georgia if Governor Deal signs a bill protecting people with "sincere religious beliefs" from denying services to gay people.  Disney stated it will “take our business elsewhere” if “discriminatory practices [are] signed into law.”

Companies ranging from Biogen to Dow Chemicals raised objections to the North Carolina law. Facebook, Google and Apple have objected and each run massive data-processing complexes in western North Carolina, but have not threatened to pull out of the state.

In Missouri, PETCO is among a slew of businesses asking lawmakers to abandon a similar religious liberty bill.

In Georgia, Mr. Deal stands between rural conservatives pushing for the religious liberty legislation and business groups in Atlanta that say the bill could undo years of hard work in drawing major corporations to the hub of the South.

“Georgia has worked so hard to be a great place for business to come and relocate – it’s mind-boggling that they would jeopardize all that,” Dan Rafter, who works with the gay rights group Freedom for All Americans, told MSNBC this week.

Both bills go further than the religious freedom law signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last spring, which ended up costing the state at least $60 million in convention and tourism revenue, even after it was narrowed to include more protections for LGBT people.

North Carolina Attorney General, Roy Cooper – who is running against Mr. McCrory for governor - said that "we should not be putting our economy in jeopardy."

The NFL has warned Georgia, which is helping the Atlanta Falcons build a new downtown stadium, that it may be out of the running for hosting the Super Bowl in 2019, an event that by some estimates had a nearly $800 million boost on the Arizona economy last year.

While Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer didn’t cite it specifically, warnings from the NFL and other corporations likely played at least some role in her vetoing a religious liberty legislation in 2014. She said such a law would have created “unintended and negative consequences.” 

"What's interesting there is that companies or brands are becoming so essential to people's lives that they're playing a role in these big social debates," Deborah Small, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, told NBC News.

Whether corporations like Disney, PayPal or American Airlines will actually take action based on anti-LGBT rules is a gamble that North Carolina, at least, has shown it’s willing to take.

Economic losses in Indiana also didn’t keep the Indiana legislature in January from rejecting a bill that would have extended non-discrimination protections to transgender people. In Indiana today, a person's sexual orientation or gender identity can be cited as a legal reason to turn someone away from housing or a place of business.

And overall, the $60 million in tourism losses hardly made a dent in the state’s $4.5 billion tourist industry. Gov Pence’s office said in January that Indiana remained a “welcoming” state that had seen many organizations expand their event. One of those events include the NFL scouting combine.

Indeed, what remains uncertain as states like North Carolina push back against gender rights is how far corporations are willing to go in protest of such laws.

After all, the NFL is still holding next year’s Super Bowl in Houston, which late last year rejected a civil rights ordinance aimed at protecting LGBT citizens. “How much heavy lifting are [corporations like the NFL] willing to do?” asked Outsports editor Cyd Ziegler in an interview with MSNBC.


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+2 # Citizen Mike 2016-03-27 22:45
I am waiting for a busload of chix with dix to sweep through GA and NC for a piss-in event, standing up at the urinals of Men's Rooms in central locations. That seems to be what these laws encourage, nay, require, right?
 
 
+5 # Buddha 2016-03-28 09:00
What is it about some people that the gender-identity or the sexual orientation of others is so in the forefront of their minds? Insecurity in your own identity or orientation? Got some issues of your own buried deep in that closet? Afraid some GOP Congressman's offer in a bathroom might be too tempting?
 
 
+2 # Krackonis 2016-03-28 06:07
The laws simply makes transgender people stay indoors and away from the public. Which seems to be the intent.

Would you go to the washroom knowing you are going to have to explain your transgendered to everyone in the washroom before you piss? That's assuming the cops are not called...
 
 
+10 # Texas Aggie 2016-03-28 08:00
It's so ironic that these reprobates are crowing about how "exceptional" America is and how backward and self-defeating other societies are, and then they go and imitate the very societies they despise.

E.g., 1. Islam is regarded as a backward culture mired in tradition that used to be in the forefront of technological development, but is now antiscience. Then they go and deny science at every turn.

2. St. Ronald of Alzheimer's is regarded as a strategic genius for making the Soviets overspend on their military while neglecting their civilian investments. And then these worshipers of St. Ronald go and do the very same thing!

3. Other religions are regarded as intolerant and evil and then these SOB's institute intolerance and evil into their laws (and then they have the nerve to declare that they are somehow victims!)

Judas Priest on a bicycle!
 
 
+2 # Citizen Mike 2016-03-28 11:49
I still want to see the gender-nonconfo rming caravan bus thru Georgia to raid various mens' rooms with a stand-up piss-in. Imagine the discomfort of a bigot who has to stand at the urinal next to a pre-op transexual or hetero-transves tite. Rub their noses in what they fear and show them the logical result of the policies they promote by creating this unexpected result of their legislative proposals.

Too bad the National Lampoon is out of business, I would write this up for them as if it happened. Mad is too tame but Lampoon as it was in the early 70s would have loved it.
 

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