June July 2016
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Businesses Denounce North Carolina's Antigay Law

American Airlines

Businesses are speaking out against North Carolina's passage of a law Wednesday rescinding antidiscrmination protections for  LGBT people, denouncing the measure as both unjust and bad for business.

House Bill 2 overturns city nondiscrimination ordinances in the state, such as one recently adopted in Charlotte that, among other things, would allow transgender people to use the public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. 

Businesses such as Dow Chemical, PayPal, and American Airlines joined in condemning the passage of HB 2.

“We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation,” said a statement from American Airlines spokeswoman Katie Cody. “Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted.”

As The Charlotte Observer reports, the company operates its “second-biggest hub at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where it just reached a new 10-year lease agreement.”

On Twitter, PayPal likewise criticized the legislation. “Inclusion is one of our core values and we are proud to champion LGBTQ equality in N. Carolina and around the world,” the company stated in a tweet.

Businesses including Microsoft, Wells Fargo, and Apple previously signed a joint statement to argue that anti-LGBT bills are bad for local economies — and for everyone, the Observer notes. 

“Corporate leaders are speaking out against bills that could allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and other minorities—versions of which are actively being considered in states across the country,” the statement read. “This proposed legislation is bad for business.”

North Carolina's legislation could thus prove costly. The passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in March 2015, for instance is estimated to have cost the state $60 million in potential revenue. Indiana's bill would have allowed businesses and individuals to legally refuse to serve LGBT people or anyone else by citing religious objections.

Several companies spoke out against the Indiana legislation, including Yelp, Angie's List, and Salesforce. Angie's List even canceled a planned expansion in the state. The widespread backlash led legislators to pass and Republican Gov. Mike Pence to sign a “fix” the legislation, aiming to assure it could not be used to justify anti-LGBT discrimination.

Many businesses have yet to make a statement on HB 2. The bill was quickly pushed through the North Carolina legislature Wednesday in a special session called to block the Charlotte ordinance, which was set to take effect April 1. Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed it into law the same day.

In a statement, McCrory clarified the reasons behind his support of HB 2. “The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte,” he wrote.

On February 21, Charlotte’s City Council voted 7-4 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination law regarding public accommodations. The ordinance would have prohibited anti-LGBT discrimination in restaurants, city parks, limo and taxi services, and other businesses that serve the public, and would have assured that transgender people would have access to the public restrooms corresponding with their gender identity. McCrory stated that such laws “[defy] common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman’s bathroom, shower or locker room.”

Georgia legislators have passed their own anti-LGBT bill, one that would be strikingly similar to the original Indiana law; Gov. Nathan Deal has yet to either sign or veto it. If it becomes law, Walt Disney and Marvel have pledged to stop doing business in the Peach State, and other entertainment companies have quickly joined in calling for a veto. The National Football League has also threatened to block Atlanta from hosting the Super Bowl in the future.

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