HB2 may cost North Carolina as much as $5 Billion

North Carolina GOP Governor Pat McCrory is a staunch defender of his state's anti-LGBT law. AP Photo, Gerry Broome, File.

By Rob Howard
Associate Editor

Since North Carolina’s infamous HB2 was passed in March, Republican legislative leaders as well as Gov. Pat McCrory have staunchly defended the law, which requires transgender people to use bathrooms that conform with their birth certificate, and forbids cities to pass human rights protections that go beyond state law. That part of the measure was directed at Charlotte, which passed an update to its protection ordinances to include a ban on discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

And ever since the passage of HB2, businesses have protested it, lawsuits to overturn it have been filed, LGBT activists have protested. The law in particular strikes fear into transgender people in North Carolina. But it also causes businesses in other states to take note of what is happening in the state, and warn their lawmakers not to make the same mistake.

Chris Armstrong, director of special initiatives at North Carolina’s Small Business Majority, wrote an op-ed in the Charlotte Observer, in which he said, “North Carolina’s House Bill 2, an anti-LGBT law that revokes local nondiscrimination protections, is undoubtedly bad for the state’s LGBT community. But as the NBA’s decision to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte shows, it’s also proving to be bad for North Carolina’s economy – and particularly for the state’s nearly 800,000 small businesses.

“These businesses play a crucial role in creating local jobs and more vibrant communities around the state, but HB 2 is threatening their success by driving away customers and employees. Repealing the law is the right thing to do for North Carolina’s small businesses.

“Since HB2 passed, the economic impact to North Carolina has been significant and swift as corporations and individual customers have taken a stand against the bill. For instance, PayPal canceled the creation of 400 jobs in the state almost immediately after the bill became law. Additionally, the City of Charlotte has lost an estimated $285 million in canceled events, with another $100 million in losses recently added following the NBA’s decision. In total, a report from UCLA estimates the law may cost the state up to $5 billion a year.”

Despite the NBA All-Star loss, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie condemned the NBA’s decision to move the game, calling it “grandstanding,” according to the Associated Press. “The Republican governor asked if the NBA is going to evaluate every law in every state or just a certain law.”

And businesses in other states are taking notice. In an article in the Houston Chronicle titled “North Carolina is reaping fallout to its anti-LGBT law. It's a warning for Texas,” the Chronicle looked back at the November defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. The paper said, “Houstonians were warned back during the debate over repealing the equal rights ordinance that rejection could cost Houston future bids for high-profile events like the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four. Mayor Annise Parker voiced fears of a direct economic backlash, noting that killing an ordinance protecting minority rights could not only taint the reputation of the nation's most diverse city, but also do incalculable damage to Houston's efforts to draw major sports and entertainment attractions.”

HB2 is under assault in the courts as well, with cases pending in federal courts in North Carolina. A federal judge held a hearing Monday on a request from the ACLU to stay the controversial law, pending a court trial in November. The judge asked for more input from lawyers before making his decision.

Copyright 2016, The Gayly – August 5, 2016 @ 3:30 p.m.