U.S. anti-gay ‘religious liberty’ laws facing backlash from big business

News Apr 06, 2016 by Mitch Potter OurWindsor.Ca

Election years tend to bring out the worst in the U.S. culture wars. But there’s something new happening in 2016 as a flurry of states ponder conservative-backed “religious liberty” laws targeting LGBT communities: Businesses big and small are coming together and throwing their weight around in the name of diversity, warning states to keep their laws inclusive or risk economic consequences.

Exhibit A — Chick-fil-A

Four years ago, Georgia-based fast-food chain Chick-fil-A famously became a national lightning rod against gay rights when its founder’s son, Dan Cathy, proudly proclaimed the company “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” Fast-forward to 2016 and Chick-fil-A now is all about the chicken — period. “We are not a political organization. We are not a social change organization. We are a restaurant,” a senior company strategist told Business Insider last month, adding that conservative political candidates looking for a quick photo op are no longer welcome to pose with the logo. “We are not engaging. Chick-fil-A is about food, and that’s it.”

A veto in Georgia

As Chick-fil-A quietly exits the culture wars, a vast array of other companies are jumping in — and firmly on the other side. In Georgia, the issue came to a head in late March when Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a controversial anti-gay religious liberty bill amid a crescendo of corporate boycott threats from Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Salesforce, MailChimp and others. But the clincher, some argue, was the NFL, which warned approval of the discriminatory Bill SB 129 would hurt Atlanta’s chances of landing the Super Bowl.

Defiance in North Carolina

The corporate crosshairs now are fixed on North Carolina, where Gov. Pat McCrory is under withering pressure to repeal an abruptly enacted new law on gay and transgender rights. The chorus of criticism includes Bank of America, which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., along with Facebook, Apple and the NBA, which has signalled it is reviewing plans to stage the 2017 all-star game in Charlotte. On Tuesday, California-based PayPal dramatically upped the stakes, announcing it will pull the plug on its planned new global operations centre in Charlotte, costing the state 400 jobs, unless the “untenable” new law is repealed. “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” company president and CEO Dan Schulman said.

Mississippi’s burning new law

Similar pressure is building against Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who signed House Bill 1523 on Tuesday, the final step in the July 1 launch of what some critics call the “most sweeping anti-LGBT” legislation in the country. Some of Mississippi’s largest employers now are threatening backlash, including Nissan, Tyson Foods and MGM Resorts International. Other companies publicly opposing the legislation include Toyota, AT&T, IBM, Levi Strauss, MassMutual, General Electric and Hyatt Hotels.

Trauma in Tennessee

Opposition heads are only now exploding over the newly passed HB 1840 in Tennessee, which sailed through the state house Wednesday and now awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature or veto. Tennessee’s religious-liberty law comes with a mental-health twist, allowing therapists the right to refuse to help patients based on “sincerely held religious belief.” Dozens of small businesses in the state have signed in opposition under the Tennessee Open For Business coalition. And on the heels of Wednesday’s legislative action, musicians Miley Cyrus and Ty Herndon were quick to follow, demanding a veto.

Murmurs in Missouri

Last month it was the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Then came the Kansas City Sports Commission. And now this week, more than a dozen major St. Louis area corporate executives — including leaders of Dow Chemical, MasterCard and AT&T — added their voices in opposition to a religious-freedom bill that critics say would enshrine anti-gay legislation in Missouri’s constitution. The latest group of execs objects specifically to language that goes beyond protecting clergy and religious institutions to extending private businesses the right to refuse service to same-sex couples. Such a move, the group said in an open letter, would simply be bad for business, effectively sending “the message to the rest of the country that Missouri condones discrimination.

Toronto Star

U.S. anti-gay ‘religious liberty’ laws facing backlash from big business

Four years ago, the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A could court positive U.S. press for its anti-gay marriage stance. Times have changed

News Apr 06, 2016 by Mitch Potter OurWindsor.Ca

Election years tend to bring out the worst in the U.S. culture wars. But there’s something new happening in 2016 as a flurry of states ponder conservative-backed “religious liberty” laws targeting LGBT communities: Businesses big and small are coming together and throwing their weight around in the name of diversity, warning states to keep their laws inclusive or risk economic consequences.

Exhibit A — Chick-fil-A

Four years ago, Georgia-based fast-food chain Chick-fil-A famously became a national lightning rod against gay rights when its founder’s son, Dan Cathy, proudly proclaimed the company “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” Fast-forward to 2016 and Chick-fil-A now is all about the chicken — period. “We are not a political organization. We are not a social change organization. We are a restaurant,” a senior company strategist told Business Insider last month, adding that conservative political candidates looking for a quick photo op are no longer welcome to pose with the logo. “We are not engaging. Chick-fil-A is about food, and that’s it.”

A veto in Georgia

As Chick-fil-A quietly exits the culture wars, a vast array of other companies are jumping in — and firmly on the other side. In Georgia, the issue came to a head in late March when Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a controversial anti-gay religious liberty bill amid a crescendo of corporate boycott threats from Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Salesforce, MailChimp and others. But the clincher, some argue, was the NFL, which warned approval of the discriminatory Bill SB 129 would hurt Atlanta’s chances of landing the Super Bowl.

Defiance in North Carolina

The corporate crosshairs now are fixed on North Carolina, where Gov. Pat McCrory is under withering pressure to repeal an abruptly enacted new law on gay and transgender rights. The chorus of criticism includes Bank of America, which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., along with Facebook, Apple and the NBA, which has signalled it is reviewing plans to stage the 2017 all-star game in Charlotte. On Tuesday, California-based PayPal dramatically upped the stakes, announcing it will pull the plug on its planned new global operations centre in Charlotte, costing the state 400 jobs, unless the “untenable” new law is repealed. “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” company president and CEO Dan Schulman said.

Mississippi’s burning new law

Similar pressure is building against Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who signed House Bill 1523 on Tuesday, the final step in the July 1 launch of what some critics call the “most sweeping anti-LGBT” legislation in the country. Some of Mississippi’s largest employers now are threatening backlash, including Nissan, Tyson Foods and MGM Resorts International. Other companies publicly opposing the legislation include Toyota, AT&T, IBM, Levi Strauss, MassMutual, General Electric and Hyatt Hotels.

Trauma in Tennessee

Opposition heads are only now exploding over the newly passed HB 1840 in Tennessee, which sailed through the state house Wednesday and now awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature or veto. Tennessee’s religious-liberty law comes with a mental-health twist, allowing therapists the right to refuse to help patients based on “sincerely held religious belief.” Dozens of small businesses in the state have signed in opposition under the Tennessee Open For Business coalition. And on the heels of Wednesday’s legislative action, musicians Miley Cyrus and Ty Herndon were quick to follow, demanding a veto.

Murmurs in Missouri

Last month it was the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Then came the Kansas City Sports Commission. And now this week, more than a dozen major St. Louis area corporate executives — including leaders of Dow Chemical, MasterCard and AT&T — added their voices in opposition to a religious-freedom bill that critics say would enshrine anti-gay legislation in Missouri’s constitution. The latest group of execs objects specifically to language that goes beyond protecting clergy and religious institutions to extending private businesses the right to refuse service to same-sex couples. Such a move, the group said in an open letter, would simply be bad for business, effectively sending “the message to the rest of the country that Missouri condones discrimination.

Toronto Star

U.S. anti-gay ‘religious liberty’ laws facing backlash from big business

Four years ago, the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A could court positive U.S. press for its anti-gay marriage stance. Times have changed

News Apr 06, 2016 by Mitch Potter OurWindsor.Ca

Election years tend to bring out the worst in the U.S. culture wars. But there’s something new happening in 2016 as a flurry of states ponder conservative-backed “religious liberty” laws targeting LGBT communities: Businesses big and small are coming together and throwing their weight around in the name of diversity, warning states to keep their laws inclusive or risk economic consequences.

Exhibit A — Chick-fil-A

Four years ago, Georgia-based fast-food chain Chick-fil-A famously became a national lightning rod against gay rights when its founder’s son, Dan Cathy, proudly proclaimed the company “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” Fast-forward to 2016 and Chick-fil-A now is all about the chicken — period. “We are not a political organization. We are not a social change organization. We are a restaurant,” a senior company strategist told Business Insider last month, adding that conservative political candidates looking for a quick photo op are no longer welcome to pose with the logo. “We are not engaging. Chick-fil-A is about food, and that’s it.”

A veto in Georgia

As Chick-fil-A quietly exits the culture wars, a vast array of other companies are jumping in — and firmly on the other side. In Georgia, the issue came to a head in late March when Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a controversial anti-gay religious liberty bill amid a crescendo of corporate boycott threats from Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Salesforce, MailChimp and others. But the clincher, some argue, was the NFL, which warned approval of the discriminatory Bill SB 129 would hurt Atlanta’s chances of landing the Super Bowl.

Defiance in North Carolina

The corporate crosshairs now are fixed on North Carolina, where Gov. Pat McCrory is under withering pressure to repeal an abruptly enacted new law on gay and transgender rights. The chorus of criticism includes Bank of America, which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., along with Facebook, Apple and the NBA, which has signalled it is reviewing plans to stage the 2017 all-star game in Charlotte. On Tuesday, California-based PayPal dramatically upped the stakes, announcing it will pull the plug on its planned new global operations centre in Charlotte, costing the state 400 jobs, unless the “untenable” new law is repealed. “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” company president and CEO Dan Schulman said.

Mississippi’s burning new law

Similar pressure is building against Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who signed House Bill 1523 on Tuesday, the final step in the July 1 launch of what some critics call the “most sweeping anti-LGBT” legislation in the country. Some of Mississippi’s largest employers now are threatening backlash, including Nissan, Tyson Foods and MGM Resorts International. Other companies publicly opposing the legislation include Toyota, AT&T, IBM, Levi Strauss, MassMutual, General Electric and Hyatt Hotels.

Trauma in Tennessee

Opposition heads are only now exploding over the newly passed HB 1840 in Tennessee, which sailed through the state house Wednesday and now awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature or veto. Tennessee’s religious-liberty law comes with a mental-health twist, allowing therapists the right to refuse to help patients based on “sincerely held religious belief.” Dozens of small businesses in the state have signed in opposition under the Tennessee Open For Business coalition. And on the heels of Wednesday’s legislative action, musicians Miley Cyrus and Ty Herndon were quick to follow, demanding a veto.

Murmurs in Missouri

Last month it was the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Then came the Kansas City Sports Commission. And now this week, more than a dozen major St. Louis area corporate executives — including leaders of Dow Chemical, MasterCard and AT&T — added their voices in opposition to a religious-freedom bill that critics say would enshrine anti-gay legislation in Missouri’s constitution. The latest group of execs objects specifically to language that goes beyond protecting clergy and religious institutions to extending private businesses the right to refuse service to same-sex couples. Such a move, the group said in an open letter, would simply be bad for business, effectively sending “the message to the rest of the country that Missouri condones discrimination.

Toronto Star