Tennessee's “License to Discriminate” SB 127 harmful to state economy

NEW YORK – Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, released the following statement after the Tennessee State Senate voted to approve SB 127 – a bill that would permit a “license to discriminate” against LGBTQ people in Tennessee.

“With its thriving music industry, Tennessee is an important cultural center for the country. But SB 127, with its ‘license to discriminate’ language, puts the state’s economic well-being – as well as its reputation – at risk. Tennesseans and the media must hold lawmakers accountable for the negative impact that state-sanctioned discrimination invites on the state. We only need to look to North Carolina or Indiana to see the harm done by these kinds of ill-advised measures.”

This will be the second consecutive year that GLAAD has fought against anti-LGBTQ legislation in Tennessee. In 2016, GLAAD teamed up with the Tennessee Equality Project and other local partners to make a stand against a pair of bills what would have opened discrimination against LGBTQ Tennesseans. Castmembers of the television hit series Nashville, as well as musicians from the industry joined the effort by urging Governor Bill Haslam to veto these discriminatory measures.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Anti-LGBTQ Laws Brought Economic Damage to North Carolina and Indiana

North Carolina’s HB2 Decimated State Economy

HB2 Cost North Carolina $5 Billion a Year in Revenue. “North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2 could cost the state almost $5 billion a year, according to a report Wednesday from the Williams Institute, a UCLA School of Law think tank that focuses on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. Most of the economic hit would come from the loss of federal funding, since the U.S. government has said HB2 is a violation of the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX. The report, however, also took into account the loss of business investment, reduced travel and tourism, the costs of litigation and enforcement, as well as costs associated with high school dropouts, workplace discrimination, health disparities, productivity loss, retention and recruitment.” [Charlotte Observer, 5.11.16]

HEADLINE: “NCAA Will Pull More Events From North Carolina Unless HB2 Is Repealed, Sports Group Warns” [Huffington Post, 2.6.17]

HB2 Cost North Carolina’s Economy $630 Million. “The fate of North Carolina’s controversial HB2 hangs in the balance of Tuesday’s election. The ‘Bathroom Bill’ is the colloquial, if crude, name for the state’s law that has cost the state at least $630 million in lost business since March, according to FORBES’ estimates. And that number could go even higher.” [Forbes, 11.3.16]

HEADLINE: “PayPal cancels $3.6 million North Carolina expansion over state’s anti-LGBT law” [New York Daily News, 4.5.16]

Bruce Springsteen Cancels Concert Because of HB2. “Canceled Bruce Springsteen concert to cost North Carolina arena $100K in lost revenue” [MassLive, 4.8.16]

Indiana’s RFRA Crippled State’s Economy

Indiana experienced an estimated $256 million economic panic following RFRA. “Major businesses boycotting a new religious freedom law in Indiana could cost the state’s economy some $256.4 million and counting over the next six years, according to the Center for American Progress. The so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law last week, is widely viewed by opponents as granting business owners a license to discriminate against the LGBT community.” [International Business Times, 4.1.15]

Official: RFRA cost Indy up to 12 conventions and $60M. “The furor surrounding last year’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act might have cost the city of Indianapolis as many as 12 conventions and up to $60 million in economic impact, the city’s nonprofit tourism arm confirmed Monday evening. Though they come with some caveats, the numbers from Visit Indy represent the most tangible effects yet of a controversy that city officials and business leaders long warned would cause real damage to Indianapolis’ reputation.” [IndyStar, 1.26.16]

Poll shows perception problem continues for Indy, nearly one year after RFRA. “According to a Visit Indy poll, conducted by Reach Market Planning & Walker Research, tourists think that think Indy still has a long way to go following the religious freedom fallout from 2015. […] When meeting decision makers were asked if Indy in fact does “Welcome All,” only 45 percent agreed. That number was even less, 43 percent for Chicago residents. The numbers were even lower when that same question applied to the state, with 28percent of meeting decision makers agreeing with the statement that “Indiana Welcomes All,” and 38percent of Chicago residents agreeing with the same statement. [Fox 59, 1.20.16]

Indiana Chamber of Commerce said Indiana and businesses “clearly suffered damage” from RFRA. “The Indiana Chamber of Commerce says the state and its businesses “clearly suffered damage” from the RFRA controversy, but the wounds appear to be healing with time. ‘We got about 600 e-mails and phone calls and letters in the two to three week period after the law was passed,’ chamber president Kevin Brinegar told WTHR.  ‘The Monday after the bill was signed I got a call from a business owner in northern Indiana. He said he lost his biggest out-of-state customer because of the bill that was signed, and he was in tears. Some businesses clearly did feel the impact.  But once the so-called fix was enacted by the legislature, those types of communications really dissipated down to a trickle … I’m not aware that we’ve received any for months.’” [WTHR, 9.17.15]

475+ Hoosier Businesses to General Assembly: Indiana Still Needs LGBT Protections This Year. “Today, the 475 businesses that make up Indiana Competes hand-delivered a letter to every single member of the General Assembly, underscoring the urgent need for lawmakers to act this year to secure statewide LGBT non-discrimination protections. Despite the failure of SB 344 to move forward earlier this month, businesses know that Indiana’s economy needs a law protecting everyone from discrimination—and with session not ending until March 14th, there is still ample time for lawmakers to pass meaningful non-discrimination legislation.” [Indiana Competes, 2.15.16]

70% of Hoosiers support LGBT protections. “A new IndyStar poll, conducted with Ball State University, shows Hoosiers support expanding the state civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity, with 50.2 percent in favor and 35.1 percent opposed. Support jumped to about 70 percent when questions were not framed around the term “civil rights,” but instead broke down the specific protections that would be provided to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people under a bill pending in the Indiana General Assembly. The proposal applies to housing, employment, retail businesses and public services.” [IndyStar, 12.17.15]