Published: April 21, 2016
In the past few years, I have been tremendously proud of the positive steps our nation has taken in terms of LGBT issues. While we as a nation still have work to do in terms of acceptance and equal rights, we are taking important steps in the right direction.
For example, last year’s Supreme Court ruling made the monumental ruling against state-level same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. That was a huge milestone on the way toward equality. And while the reaction to transgender issues has been less than stellar in some circles, I’m proud to say the majority of the people I’ve interacted with have at least tried to understand and empathize with transgender issues, even if they couldn’t fully comprehend the concept yet.
There’s a growing number of people who are, at least on some level, willing to be tolerant and understanding of people different from them.
However, despite the positive steps in the right direction, many states in this country insist on contributing to taking steps backward.
Most recently, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a controversial law preventing local municipalities from passing anti-discrimination protection for members of the LGBT community.
The most widely reported aspect of this law is the controversial “bathroom law.” This section holds a requirement forcing transgender individuals within the state to use only public restrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.
Sadly, North Carolina is not the only state to try and propose legislation of this type recently.
Other states such as Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia have all tried to push through and establish similar regulations.
Mississippi’s most recent lash-out at LGBT equality comes with the continued support of Governor Phil Bryant, who supports the state’s own “bathroom bill” as of the publication of this article.
A Virginia federal appeals court shot down a policy forbidding a transgender student from using a male bathroom in his high school, putting Virginia’s own “bathroom bill” in jeopardy of not being able to hold up in court.
Tennessee House of Representatives member Susan Lynn is the sponsor of her state’s “bathroom bill.” She shelved the legislation this week after opposition to the bill but that probably won’t stop it from reappearing again at some point. A similar legislation in Tennessee was proposed and shelved in 2014.
Georgia’s version of the “bathroom bill” was thankfully vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal after drawing the outrage from several big-money industries in Georgia such as the NFL. The league implied if the bill was passed, Georgia’s own Atlanta Falcons would be overlooked for future opportunities to host the Super Bowl.
The NFL wasn’t the only huge industry to promise action if the law was passed. Disney, Marvel, Viacom and AMC threatened to pull their respective television and film productions out of the state if the legislation were to pass.
These companies leaving would take potentially hundreds of millions of dollars out of the state, meaning they hold a tremendous amount of power.
In the case of Georgia, Deal wisely vetoed legislation for the hefty price tag it carried.
North Carolina, however, passed its rights-trampling, anti-LGBT legislation and are facing the wrath of big money industries throughout the state.
PayPal pulled a multi-million dollar investment out of the state in light of the news. Performers such as Cirque de Soleil, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Boston, Cyndi Lauper, Greg Allman and Jimmy Buffet with Huey Lewis and the News all canceled performances throughout the state. That’s the list as of publication of this article and I fully expect other performers to bow out as time goes on. Many of the performers wrote personal statements on social media or their websites claiming solidarity with the LGBT community.
My personal favorite reaction was the one from xhamster.com, an online porn site. In response to the passing of the legislation, the site blocked all IP addresses from within the state, making nothing appear except for a blank screen in a user’s web browser if they were within the state. The site vowed to remain that way until the legislation was overturned.
Is it petty? Absolutely. Is it effective in making a statement? Absolutely.
The facts here are simple. Private industry holds a ton of power, period. Just like private businesses like Chick-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby can take a stance on what they believe in, so should other companies that embrace and celebrate LGBT equality.
Just like consumers, these companies and performers are speaking out against something they believe is wrong in the most effective way — with money.
The choice becomes pretty clear once these states start getting hit in their wallets. Private citizens have the option to weigh in as well, specifically through tourism. Between huge companies, performers and tourism, North Carolina is looking at the loss of millions of dollars in revenue.
I say we give states who want to pass legislation like this a simple, straightforward choice. If they really want to restrict the ability of human beings to simply use the bathroom, that’s their prerogative. If they want to choose bigotry over their budgets, that’s their problem.
I, for one, will happily watch from afar as they flush their economies down the tubes.
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