The Guardian draws a comparison — unflatterring — of Michigan, Arizona and Arkansas when it comes to the legislature of each passing laws aimed at preserving legal discrimination against gay people. The headline tells the whole story:
Speak up or stay quiet? Arkansas firms keep mum on controversial anti-LGBT bill
We’ve written before that Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a gay discrimination bill in Arizona after an outpouring of protest from major businesses. It would discourage people from visiting Arizona, they said. Most of the companies believe in non-discrimination and have policies against it. Protests included a Day Without Gay demonstration (illustrated above) where people closed businesses, didn’t go to work and otherwise demonstrated the economic impact of people being discriminated against.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he’ll allow the recently approved Arkansas gay discriimination legislation to become law without his signature, a mild sign of disapproval insufficient to stop passage. Writes The Guardian:
The National Football League threatened to move the Super Bowl. The Arizona Cardinals football team sent a letter condemning the law. Wells Fargo, Apple, Bank of America, Marriott and American Express all criticized the bill.
In Michigan, an analogous act met the same fate. Business leaders who had originally come together to add LGBT protections to the state’s civil rights law ended up fighting against a religious freedom bill introduced in response.
“By not having inclusive policies we’re contributing to brain-drain,” said Sommer Foster, director of political advocacy at Equality Michigan. “We were able to get a number of CEOs to sign on and say discrimination doesn’t represent Michigan values.”
But now in Arkansas, where a bill to stop municipalities from passing ordinances to protect the LGBT community is almost certain to become law, national business leaders are keeping mum.
Actually, it’s been worse than mum. So-called “business leaders” in Fayetteville at the Chamber of Commerce led the charge to repeal a local civil rights ordinance. In Little Rock, businessman Lance Hines and the Chamber of Commerce’s designated city director, Gene Fortson, have already made it clear they want no part of a civil rights ordinance for gay people. No need to protect that class, Hines said bluntly.
I’d prefer silence.
Where’s Walmart and other huge companies in Arkansas that have non-discrimination policies. Do they really fear the Arkansas legislature that much?
One group is willing to speak:
The Stonewall Democratic Caucus in an attempt to have honest public discourse on SB 202 or HB 1228 is offering to debate anyone, anywhere on the issues of these bills to allow the public to understand that what is passing for legislation is plain and simple discrimination and a violation of local control. The Stonewall Democratic Caucus simply wants the same rights for all citizens under the United States Constitution and not to be determined by a wrong, discriminatory majority. We urge the good people of Arkansas to speak up, write letters, e-mails and place phone calls to express your opposition to these unnecessary and wasteful bills.
Tippi McCullough, President – Stonewall Democratic Caucus