North Carolina’s Anti-LGBTQ Law Just Cost It a Huge PayPal Office and 400 Jobs
PayPal CEO Dan Schulman is the latest business leader to speak out against a newly passed law in North Carolina that would prevent local governments from banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
But Schulman isn’t just talking. He’s hitting state lawmakers where it hurts. Today Schulman said that as a result of the new law, PayPal is cancelling plans to open its global operations center in Charlotte, a move that would have brought 400 jobs to the state.
“This decision reflects PayPal’s deepest values and our strong belief that every person has the right to be treated equally, and with dignity and respect,” Schulman wrote, explaining the decision. “Our decision is a clear and unambiguous one.”
But while the statement Schulman is making may be bold, he’s not the first tech leader to condemn the anti-LGBTQ law, known as HB2. Last week, more than 90 business leaders signed an open letter urging North Carolina’s legislature to repeal the hastily signed bill. The letter included a who’s who of tech executives: Apple CEO Tim Cook, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, PayPal founder Max Levchin, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and many others.
“The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business,” the letter reads. “This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development.”
Anti-LGBTQ = Anti-Business
HB2 thwarts LGBTQ rights in two crucial ways. First, it prevents any local government from passing a law that’s inconsistent with the state’s own anti-discrimination law. Because the state anti-discrimination law doesn’t ban discrimination on the basis of sexuality, cities can’t do so on their own.
But the law goes even farther. Also referred to as “the Charlotte bathroom bill,” HB2 forces transgender people in schools and government buildings to use the bathrooms assigned to the gender on their birth certificates, not the gender with which they identify.
In his statement, Schulman wrote that “becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable.”
“While we will seek an alternative location for our operations center,” Schulman writes, “we remain committed to working with the LGBT community in North Carolina to overturn this discriminatory legislation, alongside all those who are committed to equality.”
Tech Stands Against Discrimination
This isn’t the first time the tech community has banded together to fight back against discriminatory laws. In 2013, Apple, Google, Facebook, and other companies filed a brief to the Supreme Court arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was bad for business.
Last year, Tim Cook, the first openly gay Fortune 500 CEO, wrote an op-ed denouncing a series of so-called “religious freedom laws” in states like Indiana and Texas, which would have made it possible for businesses to refuse to serve LGBT people because of their religious beliefs.
“These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear,” Cook wrote at the time. “They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”
Meanwhile, Marc Benioff announced at the time that Salesforce was canceling all activities that would require employees to travel to Indiana “to face discrimination.”
In Indiana’s case, the state added an amendment to its law clarifying that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could not be used to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
It’s still unclear whether the tech community will have any sway in convincing the government of North Carolina to change course. And it’s even less clear that all of these statements from business leaders will prevent other states from adopting similar policies. In fact, as this story was being written, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed another religious freedom bill into law.
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