A coalition of businesses united to oppose North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, the Republican-led legislation aimed at forcing transgender people to use restrooms that correspond to their birth gender rather than their expressed gender.
The 68 companies — including United Airlines, American Airlines, Apple, Dropbox, eBay, Hilton Hotels, IBM and others — maintain that H.B. 2 runs counter to their non-discrimination and pro-diversity policies. The law, they say, is bad for business and sends an ugly message to LGBT consumers.
“HB2 is a law that forces transgender persons to deny, disclaim and conceal their gender identity, particularly whenever they wish to use single-sex restroom facilities on state or local government property,” Olson wrote in the 44-page brief. “In so doing, it forces transgender people to deny a fundamental feature of their character and personhood in the name of safety concerns that are wholly illusory and a slap in the face to all transgender persons who are simply trying to live their lives consistent with who they really are.”
The filing continued, “H.B. 2 discriminates against the roughly 44,000 transgender people in North Carolina by denying them access to single-sex facilities that accord with their gender identity but not their biological sex whenever they set foot in a facility owned or operated by any agency or arm of the State or a local government. In so doing, H.B. 2 sends a resounding message to the public that transgender persons—people simply trying to live their lives consistent with who they are—are ‘other’ and outcasts whose gender identity and human dignity are undeserving of recognition and respect on government property,” the companies write. “It is no accident that H.B. 2’s anti-transgender message and effects have prompted some commentators to coin it the most anti-LGBT legislation in the country.”
North Carolina’s Tea Party Gov. Pat McCrory has held firm in his support of H.B. 2 — which Republican lawmakers trotted out after a rushed 12-hour legislative session — in the face of widespread opposition.
Lawmakers are walking back one part of the law, the lesser known statute which prohibits any person from suing the state’s municipalities on the basis of employment discrimination.
Rights advocates say that the modifications to the law are insufficient, that it still willfully discriminates against an entire class of citizens and is unconstitutional.
“This was just one of the incredible mistakes made in the passage of House Bill 2,” said Greensboro Democrat Chris Sgro on the House floor in June. “I am woefully embarrassed that this is the result of two-and-a-half months of conversation about the most disastrous piece of legislation in the state’s history.”
Time’s Philip Elliott wrote, “One study has estimated the North Carolina law has cost the economy $500 million and 1,750 jobs. Other studies have estimated the figures are lower, varying from $77 million to $200 million. Companies like PayPal and Deutsche Bank have scrapped plans to expand in the state, and the U.K. has warned its LGBT residents against visiting North Carolina.”
“The fact that Olson and so many leading American businesses have come together on this brief demonstrates the breadth and depth of opposition to legislation as illegal, unfair and dangerous as HB2,” said Chad Griffin, president LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).