The high cost of LGBT dis­crim­i­na­tion

GA Voice - - You Words Your Voice -

The re­cent mon­u­men­tal Supreme Court de­ci­sion has made for an ex­cit­ing and en­er­getic sum­mer. How­ever, the de­ci­sion has also al­lowed our com­mu­nity to har­ness this energy for another im­por­tant bat­tle: Equal treat­ment and nondis­crim­i­na­tion.

One of the chal­lenges of our cause has been to cod­ify the eco­nomic con­se­quences of dis­crim­i­na­tion against the LGBT com­mu­nity. As we cer­tainly know, dis­crim­i­na­tion is wrong in the moral and so­cial jus­tice sense. But talk­ing about the eco­nomic as­pects of dis­crim­i­na­tion al­lows us to broaden our ar­gu­ment and at­tract pow­er­ful new al­lies for up­com­ing bat­tles.

The cor­po­rate com­mu­nity, large and small, is among the lead­ers ad­vanc­ing nondis- crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions for the LGBT com­mu­nity. Why is that? It is be­cause busi­nesses suc­ceed when they have ac­cess to the best and bright­est tal­ent.

Ge­or­gia’s econ­omy is one of the largest economies in the na­tion. Fif­teen For­tune 500 com­pa­nies call Ge­or­gia home, and our state is num­ber two in the na­tion for en­tre­pre­neur­ial ac­tiv­ity. LGBT nondis­crim­i­na­tion is crit­i­cal to mak­ing Ge­or­gia the num­ber one des­ti­na­tion for in­no­va­tive new busi­nesses.

Ninety per­cent of the For­tune 500 com­pa­nies have nondis­crim­i­na­tion poli­cies cov­er­ing sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. The small busi­ness com­mu­nity, the very back­bone of our econ­omy, sup­ports poli­cies of equal treat­ment. In a re­cent poll, nearly 80 per­cent of small busi­ness own­ers sup­port LGBT nondis­crim­i­na­tion ef­forts.

It is clear that our state’s “job cre­ators” are moved by the words of economist Richard Florida: “Di­ver­sity—an open­ness to all kinds of peo­ple, no mat­ter their gen­der, race, na­tion­al­ity, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, is not a pri­vate virtue, but an eco­nomic ne­ces­sity.”

The state of In­di­ana pro­vides an ex­cel­lent test case on the eco­nomic con­se­quences of dis­crim­i­na­tion. In­ter­na­tional back­lash re­sulted when Gover­nor Mike Pence signed the dis­as­trous “Re­li­gious Free­dom Restora­tion Act” into law.

The pun­ish­ment was swift and harsh; it cost the state over $250 mil­lion in eco- nomic ac­tiv­ity.

Thank­fully, lead­ers in Ge­or­gia were watch­ing. The ef­fort to pass re­li­gious lib­erty leg­is­la­tion with­out nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions died in the Ge­or­gia state leg­is­la­ture in the wake of In­di­ana. The mes­sage was crys­tal clear: there are se­vere eco­nomic con­se­quences when you pass dis­crim­i­na­tory leg­is­la­tion.

If greater nondis­crim­i­na­tion ef­forts can make our state even more eco­nom­i­cally com­pet­i­tive for job growth and wage in­crease, then we have an op­por­tu­nity to gain new al­lies in the fight for equal­ity and equal treat­ment.

It is time for our state to lis­ten to the job cre­ators: dis­crim­i­na­tion of any kind is wrong, and it’s bad for a grow­ing econ­omy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.