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