North Carolina's awful omnibus bad bill continues to have serious financial repercussions for the state as Republicans find out that enshrining bigotry into law is really a bad idea if you want to sell the state as a destination to people everywhere else. First, Wake County where state capital Raleigh is could lose millions in tourism dollars and that's just the beginning.
A report released by Wake County’s leading tourism agency on Monday says that the county has lost more than $700,000 in response to the controversial House Bill 2 – and could lose millions more.
The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that four groups have canceled plans to hold events in Wake because of HB2, which some say discriminates against the transgender community, gays and lesbians.
The International Association of Security and Investigative Regulators, Johnstone Supply, the Matria Tech Leadership Conference and the N.C. State Library Conference cited HB2 in canceling their events, which were mostly scheduled at hotels in downtown Raleigh. In addition, the GIS-T Symposium, a gathering of state transportation officials, cut the number of attendees expected at its conference because of HB2. Combined, the bureau reports that Wake has lost out on an estimated $732,000 in economic benefits.
“We just felt that it’s not in the best interest of our membership to go someplace that’s not inclusive,” said Janet Tipton, spokeswoman for Oregon-based Johnstone Supply, which considered bringing 300 people.
The visitors bureau reported that 16 other groups, the names of which it didn’t disclose, also are reconsidering plans to hold events in Wake County. The groups would bring a combined 73,500 people to the area and infuse an estimated $24 million into the local economy, the report says.
Oh well. But hey, bathroom cops, so. And speaking of events that will bring in tens of millions...
A team of bipartisan senators on Tuesday urged the NBA to take their All Star game business out of North Carolina in a stand against the state's sweeping anti-LGBT law.
Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Cory Booker, (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) all signed onto the letter by asking NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to "take a stand against this latest form discrimination and move the 2017 NBA All Star Game away from Charlotte, N.C."
Kirk was the only Republican who signed onto the letter and is running for re-election in 2016 in Illinois.
The letter, which was first reported by Politico, is the latest in an effort to force North Carolina to reconsider its law, which forces individuals to use restrooms that may violate their gender identity and bars local communities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances.
"We hold no ill-will toward the people of Charlotte, who passed an anti-discrimination measure that HB2 overturned or towards the people of North Carolina," Senators wrote. "However, we cannot condone nor stand idly by as North Carolina moves to legalize and institutionalize discrimination against the LGBT community."
Actions have consequences, NC GOP. Gov. Pat McCrory, sensing he just lose re-election in November over this, is trying to put a band-aid on a sucking chest wound.
Here comes the damage control. On Tuesday, McCrory announced a new executive order that makes some very small tweaks to the law. Here is what the order does, according to McCrory's office:
Maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools
Affirms the private sector's right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies
Affirms the private sector and local governments' right to establish non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees
Expands the state's employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity
Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination
There are some very modest advancements for LGBTQ rights here, particularly the move to protect LGBTQ state government employees from discrimination. But LGBTQ workers who don't work for the state government remain unprotected from workplace discrimination under state law.
But these changes don't really address the main concerns with North Carolina's law. The law still prohibits — and, in fact, McCrory affirmed that it prohibits — trans people from using the bathroom in schools and government buildings that matches their gender identity. And the law still blocks cities and counties from legally banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. These provisions remain untouched, regardless of any new protections for state government employees.
It's still a bad law, and hey, in November, North Carolina might want to do something about the Republican lawmakers who created it and stuffed it through the General Assembly, Senate, and McCrory's desk in less than a day. But if these poll results are correct, that's not going to happen.
Although McCrory's approval rating is down to 43% and half of voters disapprove of the bill, a majority also believe trans people using the bathroom of their choice are a "security risk to women and children". That's a consistent majority across all age groups and both men and women and includes 42% of Democrats and a third of people who say LGBT rights should be protected.
So no, don't expect HB2 to be repealed without continued devastating pressure from businesses.