Our Pledge to Anti-Racism

North Carolina Buckles Under “Bathroom Bill” While Texas Charts Similar Course

The trainwreck that is North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” continued today, as lawmakers convened for a special session aimed at repealing the law—only to double down on discrimination instead.

After a costly 10 hour special session, lawmakers failed to repeal HB 2. That means the shameful era of state-sanctioned discrimination will continue in the Tar Heel State. And hardworking North Carolinians are the ones who will bear the price.

Since outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory signed HB 2 into law 9 months ago, the state has been crippled by economic sanctions, including $600+ million dollars in lost revenue and investments, hundreds of thousands of frozen jobs, and countless cancelled high-profile events. These costs are sure to rise, after lawmakers’ botched attempt at repeal.

These facts should be enough to make lawmakers in other states rethink their support for NC-style “bathroom bills.” But in Texas, that’s not the case. Inexplicably, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has said it’s his top priority next year to pass a near-replica of HB2, even though a study released last month showed that it would cost Texas 185,000 jobs and $8.5 billion dollars in annual GDP.

What’s happening in North Carolina should be a wakeup call for Texas. The state has been embroiled in political chaos for months, the economic fallout grows more severe by the day—and Texas could be next if Lieutenant Governor Patrick has his way.

You can help stop Lt. Gov Patrick’s “bathroom bill” and any other anti-LGBT legislation introduced in 2017 by making a donation to Equality Texas now. Through the end of the year, a donor will match all donations up to $7,500—and every penny will help ensure we have the resources we need to fight back against attacks on LGBT Texans. Click here to make a donation now.

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New Economic Study: Texas Risks $8.5 Billion with Anti-LGBT Legislation

December 6, 2016 by Cameron Tolle

The legislative session hasn’t even started and already some Texas lawmakers are filing bills designed to restrict the rights of LGBT Texans.

Today, those lawmakers are getting a wake up call.

economic-studyThis morning, members of Keep Texas Open for Business—a coalition of businesses working to block legislation that would give “license to discriminate” in the Longhorn State—held a press event at the State Capitol to release a study on the projected economic consequences of anti-LGBT bills.

The findings are extreme.

Texas stands to lose 185,000 jobs and $8.5 billion dollars in annual GDP if lawmakers continue to push anti-LGBT legislation at the State Capitol.

The analysis, commissioned by Texas Association of Businesses, is based on actual or projected losses in four other states—North Carolina, Indiana, Arizona and Louisiana—where similarly discriminatory legislation has been passed or proposed.

As a case study, North Carolina’s economy has been grinding to a halt ever since Governor Pat McCrory signed the heinous HB 2 law—a first-of-its-kind law that explicitly targets transgender people for discrimination by effectively banning them from using public restrooms because of their gender identity.

The state has already forfeited $600 million in frozen business expansions, diverted tourism and conventions revenue, and cancelled events—including the ACC football championship, NBA all-star game, and NCAA championships.

Ultimately, HB 2 also cost Pat McCrory reelection. He conceded defeat just yesterday.

Despite the undeniable evidence of the economic havoc wreaked by HB 2, our own Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has vowed to introduce a near replica of the bill in the Texas legislature this session—blatantly ignoring the economic implications and writing off the potential political downfall this type of legislation could precipitate.

Ultimately, 185,000 jobs and $8.5 billion dollars in economic losses don’t just impact the intended targets of anti-LGBT legislation. This type of economic fallout falls on the shoulders of ALL Texans. That’s why businesses are speaking out.

Our lawmakers should be working to grow business investments and ensure the long-term sustainability of Texas’ economy—not actively working to destroy it.

Click here to send a pre-drafted message to your lawmakers, sharing the dramatic results of the Keep Texas Open for Business study and urging them to block any and all legislation that would invite discrimination to Texas.

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McCrory Loss in North Carolina Shows Pushing LGBT Discrimination Has Consequences at the Ballot Box

December 5, 2016 by Cameron Tolle

After months of doubling down on the discriminatory anti-transgender HB 2, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has officially lost his re-election bid to Attorney General Roy Cooper, who currently leads by 10,000 votes.

Today’s result is a clear rejection of anti-transgender discrimination and lawmakers who support it—and elected officials in Texas should take heed.

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Since early in the season this race has been read as a referendum on HB 2. On election night the vote tally seemed to show that voters had had enough of attempts to divide the state and blow up its economy in order to discriminate against transgender people. But instead of gracefully conceding, McCrory engaged in increasingly desperate bids to overcome the vote margin, which continued to grow after Election Day.

McCrory filed complaints in half of the state’s counties on the premise that large-scale voter fraud impacted the election. These complaints were quickly rejected as baseless by the Republican-controlled local county election boards and the State Board of Elections. Claims of fraud were especially bizarre considering President-elect Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Richard Burr both won by strong margins in North Carolina. It’s clear now that voters were simply crossing party lines to to send a message: Discrimination is a losing platform on both sides of the aisle.

Equality Texas CEO Chuck Smith said the result today shows that voters are ready to move on to other issues, and that includes voters in Texas. They want their elected officials to focus on the economy and stop wasting time and sowing divisiveness:

“Governor McCrory’s ouster is just the latest evidence that Americans from all walks of life simply don’t support laws that discriminate against transgender people and destroy a state’s reputation. Here in Texas, voters are eager to see their lawmakers focus on the issues that matter—infrastructure, schools, spending. Wasting time on polarizing and unnecessary bills that demonize transgender people and undermine the ability of our cities and towns to set their own policies is a dangerous gamble that puts Texas’ economy and reputation on the line.”

So far HB 2 has cost the Tar Heel state $600 million in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs. The NBA, NCAA and ACC all pulled championship games out of the state, while businesses including PayPal, Deutsche Bank and CoStar scrapped expansions and instead took their business elsewhere.

That so many industries and sports leagues have pulled events from North Carolina over the anti-transgender law sets a precedent for consequences states like Texas should expect if lawmakers consider similarly discriminatory bills here.

And yet, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has vowed to push the exact same kind of discriminatory legislation when lawmakers return to Austin in January. His recent comments indicate he feels that Texas can somehow get around the economic consequences of pushing this legislation, even though his bill—the perversely named “Women’s Privacy Act”—is nearly identical to the disastrous HB 2. Lt. Gov. Patrick should instead heed the lesson out of North Carolina today: Lawmakers who insist on supporting discriminatory anti-transgender legislation that hurts our state’s economy will lose at the ballot box.

According to Smith, this goes for Texas as well:

“Over the past year, businesses and major athletic organizations have made it clearer than ever that they won’t remain in states where hostile laws are on the books. Texas is not immune to the types of economic backlash that’s ongoing in North Carolina. Texans, like all Americans, are eager to move forward and have our civic discussions grounded in the values we all share. There’s much to learn from what’s unfolded in North Carolina over the last year, and we hope Dan Patrick is watching closely. Discrimination doesn’t win.”

Equality Texas hopes that as lawmakers look toward the 2017 legislative session, they heed the lesson voters delivered. Texans want to see proactive legislation that makes our economy more competitive and protects everyone from discrimination. And if they don’t see that from the Statehouse this year, they’re likely to remember when they go to the polls in 2018.

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200 Business Owners Tell Lt Gov Patrick That Texas Cannot Afford Anti-LGBT Legislation

October 25, 2016 by Cameron Tolle

Representatives from Equality Texas and small business owners from across the state gathered in San Antonio today to push back on Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s assertion that passing anti-transgender legislation is his top priority for 2017.

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Lieutenant Governor Patrick promised last week to make passing the “Women’s Privacy Act” a top legislative priority for the 2017 session. The anti-transgender bill is similar to North Carolina’s HB 2, which has cost the state $395 million dollars in lost revenue—and that cost is still rising.

The business owners gathered today represented a diverse cross-section of the state’s small business economy.

Jody Bailey Newman is the owner of The Friendly Spot and Alamo Street Eat Bar and co-owner of Hills & Dales, B&D Ice House, and the Newman Project. She wants lawmakers to know that this isn’t a partisan issue—she’s a conservative. Anyone of any ideology or political persuasion who supports discriminatory legislation is simply angling to hurt her livelihood.

bailey“Anyone who supports discriminatory legislation is anti-business. My husband and I pay taxes and employ people who depend on their jobs. We cannot let the lieutenant governor destroy our businesses because he wants to push discriminatory legislation that has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to other states. In San Antonio we have already committed millions of tax dollars to upgrades for the 2018 NCAA Final Four. When we have events like that, the fans come into our businesses, and they spend — and that’s our bottom line.”

Worry about how this law would impact their ability to draw new customers is a common theme among the businesses who came out against it today. This is especially true for business owners in the tourism industry, like Anel Flores, the owner of A & N Realty.
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“We have significant concerns that Texas and San Antonio tourism – including sports and other events – will suffer as Texas makes headlines for being the latest state to push a discriminatory agenda.  We’ve seen it happen around the country, and when tourism suffers, it’s not just numbers in the news.  These are real small businesses, real jobs, and real revenues that are affected.”

Business owners who currently operate in diverse communities are also worried. Hepzibah Hoffman-Rogers and Joy Rodgers run Thunderpaws, a dog-grooming and training business. They worry discriminatory legislation will ultimately dissuade community members from seeking their services.

thunderpaws“We recognize that our community is made of so many different types of people, each of whom has a right to privacy and dignity. How people feel, identify, worship or think is not our business; dogs are. We are fortunate to get to celebrate so many types of dogs; why shouldn’t we accept many different types of people?”

This is especially true for business owners like Rebel Mariposa, whose business thrives on attracting millennials—a generation known to be much more supportive of LGBT rights than previous ones. Rebel is a millennial herself, as well as the owner of San Antonio restaurant La Botanica, so she knows this firsthand.

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“Millennials will make up 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2030 and they do not want to work in a city or state that discriminates against anyone. We will be at risk of cutting off our talent pipeline if we do not send a message that Texas embraces inclusion and diversity.”

And some business owners said this legislation simply violates the very spirit that makes Texas unique. It’s the worst kind of government overreach—which has been anathema to Texans since the state came into being—according to David Wyatt, the co-founder of the public relations firm Wyatt Brand.

wyatt“Texas has always been and will always be a place of fierce independence and a great big pioneering spirit. From business to community to religion to politics, ours is a state where you can work hard, flourish, and forge your own path. Companies, voters, and political donors won’t stand for legislators dictating big government overreach into individual liberties. Texans may disagree on some issues, but our shared values are freedom to be and enough room for everyone. When the wind blows another direction, there’s no telling what they’d legislate we can’t have, do, or be. That’s just not the Texas way.”

Businesses owners are understandably upset that Lieutenant Governor Patrick would put the state’s small businesses in jeopardy like this, and they’re gearing up to defeat any such legislation before it takes a similarly large bite out of Texas’ economy.

In addition to the letter released today in San Antonio, more than 1,100 businesses have signed on to a pledge promoted by Texas Competes, an organization dedicated to making sure Texas remains economically competitive and vibrant.

Equality Texas is urging lawmakers to keep these business owners’ stories in mind—as well as the possibility of a $395 million dollar price tag—when considering legislation for the 2017 session. We simply cannot afford the losses seen in other states.

And if you’re a small business who supports keeping Texas open for business, you can learn  more about our coalition and sign the Equality Texas pledge.

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