The Metro Atlanta Chamber is taking a proactive stance against legislative attempts to enact anti-LGBT discrimination in 2017.
During the group’s annual meeting this week, the outgoing chairman, SunTrust Banks Executive Vice President Jenner Wood, said the Chamber would take a hard line next year against religious exemptions legislation or so-called “bathroom bans” the likes of North Carolina’s HB 2, which have a track record of crippling state economies and paralyzing growth.
This stance is not revolutionary—businesses have been vocal opponents of this type of discriminatory, anti-LGBT legislation in Georgia. As Wood said during his statement at the Chamber’s meeting, “We are not supportive of any bill that in any way would discriminate in any way against any person. We’ve said that for three years now.”
Back in September, Chamber CEO Hala Moddelmog said it’s clear that anti-LGBT legislation is an imminent threat to Georgia’s economic future, especially as the state looks to recruit more millennials into the workforce. And this spring, the Chamber was a leading business voice against HB 757, the “license to discriminate” that would have explicitly legalized discrimination against LGBT Georgians, single women, religious minorities and other groups of people had it not been vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal in March.
— Metro ATL Chamber (@atlchamber) November 30, 2016
As the economic fallout over HB 2 in North Carolina shows, the Chamber has good reason to oppose anti-LGBT legislation. Economic development organizations estimate that North Carolina has lost more than $600 million in revenue over HB 2 since Governor Pat McCrory signed it into law in March. The NBA, NCAA and ACC all pulled championship games out of the state—taking a hard hit at the tourism industry—while businesses including PayPal, Deutsche Bank and CoStar scrapped planned expansions and instead brought their business to places that don’t practice state-sanctioned discrimination.
One of those places? Georgia. In October the ACC awarded the Peach State three of the nine games that were previously scheduled to be held in North Carolina. Georgia was a competitive location thanks to Gov. Deal’s veto of HB 757, which sent a signal to the ACC that our state is serious about promoting a welcoming atmosphere for tourists as well as business investors. According to the Georgia Convention and Visitors Bureau, in addition to spurring growth in the tourism industry the veto saved it nearly $1 billion in lost revenue.
The economic gains Georgia has seen since Governor Deal vetoed HB 757—as well as the losses that keep piling up in North Carolina—show clearly that supporting anti-LGBT discrimination is bad for business.
Proactive measures to ensure LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections could make Georgia an even more competitive place to do business. In 2017, lawmakers should invest in Georgia’s economic growth and take steps to advance legislation to protect ALL Georgians—including gay and transgender people—from discrimination. Click here to send a message to your lawmakers if you agree.SHARE THIS STORY