ANTI-LGBT laws hit states right in the pock­et­book

▶ North Carolina loses Pay­pal over trans­gen­der bath­room rights ▶ “We felt it was im­por­tant to back our words with ac­tions”

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Contents - Edited by Al­li­son Hoff­man Bloomberg.com

In March, Pay­pal an­nounced plans to open an oper­a­tions cen­ter in Char­lotte, cre­at­ing 400 jobs in North Carolina. Then the state en­acted HB2, which blocks lo­cal or­di­nances ex­tend­ing pub­lic ac­com­mo­da­tions to les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, and trans­gen­der peo­ple. The tar­get was a Char­lotte mea­sure that would have pro­tected the right of trans­gen­der peo­ple to use pub­lic bath­rooms ac­cord­ing to the gen­der they iden­tify with. On April 5, Pay­pal Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Dan Schul­man an­nounced he was can­cel­ing plans to ex­pand in North Carolina un­less the state over­turns HB2. “This law is against a core value of our com­pany, which is in­clu­sion,” he says. “We felt it was im­por­tant to back our words with ac­tions.”

Pay­pal isn’t alone. Brae­burn Pharmaceuticals says it’s reeval­u­at­ing its de­ci­sion to build a $20 mil­lion fa­cil­ity in North Carolina’s Re­search Tri­an­gle area be­cause of the HB2 law. Pep­sico CEO In­dra Nooyi sent North Carolina Gover­nor Pat Mccrory, a Repub­li­can, a let­ter urg­ing him to undo HB2: “I fear this law is un­der­min­ing our col­lec­tive ef­forts to ad­vance North Carolina’s long-term in­ter­ests and I hope you will con­sider call­ing for its re­peal.” More than 80 cor­po­rate lead­ers have signed a sim­i­lar plea for re­peal, say­ing it’s bad for busi­ness. At a press con­fer­ence, Mccrory said his goal was to guar­an­tee “the ex­pec­ta­tion of pri­vacy” in schools and other pub­lic places.

There are about 200 pro­posed bills in 34 states that are con­sid­ered po­ten­tially hos­tile to LGBT peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign, which is among ad­vo­cacy groups op­posed to HB2. Gov­er­nors in South Dakota and Ge­or­gia this year both ve­toed po­ten­tially dis­crim­i­na­tory legislation af­ter cor­po­rate lead­ers ob­jected.

In 28 U.S. states, LGBT res­i­dents aren’t specif­i­cally pro­tected from dis­crim­i­na­tion at work or in pub­lic places. The next battle may come in Mis­sis­sippi. The same day Pay­pal an­nounced it was pulling out of North Carolina, Mis­sis­sippi Gover­nor Phil Bryant signed a bill that al­lows busi­nesses to deny ser­vices to gay cou­ples on the ba­sis of re­li­gious be­lief. MGM Re­sorts In­ter­na­tional, which has two casi­nos in Mis­sis­sippi, ob­jected to the law, say­ing it will re­duce tourism and harm the state’s econ­omy. Nis­san Mo­tor, a large em­ployer in the state, also ob­jected, as did IBM and Levi Strauss.

Other states see op­por­tu­nity. Ver­mont Gover­nor Peter Shum­lin tweeted at Pay­pal: “If you’re look­ing for a tol­er­ant state with a thriv­ing tech hub, we’d wel­come you in VT.” �Spencer Soper and Jeff Green, with Mar­garet Newkirk and Jen­nifer Ka­plan

“I fear this law is un­der­min­ing our col­lec­tive ef­forts to ad­vance North Carolina’s long-term in­ter­ests and I hope you will con­sider call­ing for its re­peal.” �Pep­sico Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer In­dra Nooyi

The bot­tom line Pay­pal led com­pa­nies putting mil­lions in devel­op­ment on hold un­less North Carolina re­peals a law block­ing LGBT pro­tec­tions.

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