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Strong Opposition Against Homophobic Laws in Mississippi and North Carolina
(Blogmensgo, gay blog of April 16, 2016) On April 5, 2016, the governor of Mississippi signed a new law that officially allows discrimination against LGBT persons. However, many corporations and celebrities have expressed their opposition against this explicitly homophobic text. Likewise, businesses and individuals are criticizing and opposing similar laws in Georgia and North Carolina.
Mississippi: A clearly homophobic “Freedom of Conscience”
Phil Bryant, the republican governor of Mississippi enacted the law called “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” The word government refers to the federal government of the USA that is applying the decision on marriage equality of June 26, 2015 by the US Supreme Court (cf. our article) in all states and territories of the US.
The new law HB-1523 in Mississippi will come into effect on July 1st, 2016. The preamble (section 2) reveals the clientele to whom it was tailored:
This new law “protects” any religious beliefs or moral convictions that consider marriage solely as the union between one man and one woman, sexual acts as being exclusively reserved to such marriages and the sexual identity of an individual as determined at time of birth and unchangeable.
“Religious beliefs” in the name of love hatred
By virtue of such “sincere” convictions, natural and legal persons may henceforth fire or refuse to hire gays, lesbians, bi- and transsexuals by simply stating that these persons infringe on their beliefs or convictions. For the same reasons, merchants, physicians and hospitals may refuse to offer their services to LGBT persons.
Apart from the two high-profile writers Donna Tartt and John Grisham, most of the 95 names are hardly known outside of the USA or Mississippi.
Obviously, many LGBT organizations and celebrities are acting up against the new homophobic law in Mississippi. Amongst others, 95 writers and authors from Mississippi signed an official declaration against this law on April 11, 2016 and ask for its immediate abrogation.
Phil Bryant, homophobic from head to toe.
Homophobia and its (economic) consequences
Over the last weeks, the mobilization against such homophobic steps has seen a number of successful outcomes in several US states like Georgia and North Carolina – mostly due to threats of economic consequences.
On March 28, 2016, the governor of Georgia cancelled a homophobic law because Disney, Sony, Time Warner and other big corporations had threatened to freeze their projects and investments in his state.
North Carolina pays the price for its homophobia (but stays homophobic nonetheless)
On March 23, 2016, Pat McCrory, the republican governor of North Carolina, had enacted a law (officially called HB2 and nicknamed Bathroom Bill) forcing transsexuals to exclusively use restrooms according to their administrative gender unless they present a medical certificate.
Big businesses counterattack
Deutsche Bank, which employs about 900 people in North Carolina, consequently froze 250 planned new jobs in this state, and Google Ventures now refuses to invest money there.
Moreover, PayPal now refrains from hiring 400 academics in Charlotte, NC.
Other large corporations ranging from banks (Bank of America), book stores (Barnes & Noble) and IT companies (Apple, eBay) to transport businesses (American Airlines, Uber) have expressed their concerns to the governor and are threatening to freeze their investments or hiring activity in North Carolina.
Empty concert halls and venues
Famous musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Bryan Adams take a firm stand by boycotting North Carolina and cancelling concert dates in April and June.
The music group Pearl Jam and the famous Cirque du soleil also cancelled their shows planned for April in North Carolina.
The singer Demi Lovato cancelled her concert dates planned for June 30 and July 3, 2016.
Homophobes deprived of porn
Somewhat more edgy: XHamster has been blocking IP addresses in North Carolina. Users in that state had entered the words “transsexual” 400,000 times and “gay” almost 320,000 times in the search field of this porn website in March 2016.
As a result of the pressure, the governor of North Carolina has backed down a bit and limited the new law to schools and public buildings. The new transphobic law thus no longer applies to the private sector.
However, the law is still in force as of today, and the pressure will only go away after the law has been cancelled once and for all.
[Update of July 27, 2016.] In June 2015, the professional basketball league had decided to hold the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in the Time Warner Arena of Charlotte. On February 19, 2017 the home stadium of the Charlotte Hornets was supposed to welcome this highly mediatic event whose revenues typically reach $100 million.
However, as a reaction to the stubbornness of North Carolina to abrogate the law HB2, the NBA decided to change the plan and hold the 2017 game at a different venue (possibly in Louisiana, New Orleans), adding that Charlotte would be welcome to house the 2019 NBA All-Star Game again.
Between the lines, we can read: If North Carolina does not abrogate its homo- and transphobic law at least two years before the event, Charlotte will once again be deprived of this important event.
[End of update.]
[[Update of August 29, 2016.]]
Are people in North Carolina less homophobic than their deputees?
Does the population in North Carolina support the homophobic laws of the state? Probably not so much.
Against homophobic discrimination but…
According to an opinion poll published by PRRI on August 10, 2016, the majority of North Carolinians (64% compared to 71% nation-wide) is for laws against discrimination of LGBT persons at the workplace, in housing and public infrastructure.
31% however, are against such laws to protect gays, lesbians, bi- and transsexuals.
Just like in the remainder of the USA, factors like age (young people are more in favor than older people), political affiliation (democrats are rather for, republicans are rather against it) and religion (Catholics, atheists, agnostics and non-evangelical Protestants are rather for it) play an important role in the distribution of proponents vs. opponents of rules against LGBT discrimination. The numbers of proponents in the urban regions of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham are higher than in rural areas (71% vs. 60%).
Quite interestingly, the percentage of proponents among blacks (60%) is almost as high as among whites (65%).
… religious reservations may last a long time
Do small merchants such as restaurant owners have the right to refuse service to LGBT persons, based on their religious convictions? 56% of North Carolinians say No, 37% say Yes. These figures are almost identical to the national average (see our article). Again, there are significant differences based on the respondents’ age, religious beliefs etc.
It is noteworthy that particularly the black citizens of North Carolina are against such discrimination by small merchants: 69% vs. 50% of the white citizens, with corresponding figures for opponents of such discrimination.
About 50-50 for same-sex marriage
About 47% of North Carolinians are against legalizing same-sex marriage, with 46% for it. Nationwide, the result is much clearer in favor of gay marriage (53% vs. 37%.
When religion leads to schizophrenia
There are some very striking differences of up to 20% between proponents of same-sex marriage and acceptance of legal provisions against LGBT discrimination (46% vs. 64% in North Carolina).
Non-religious people (atheists and agnostics) look at these two questions in about the same way (74% vs. 73%). The difference is particularly high for white evangelical Protestants (26% vs. 54%).
[End of update.]
Comment:This NBA decision is even more commendable considering the fact that the professional North-American basketball league has often seen more or less openly homophobic statements. As a reminder: Jason Collins is still the only openly gay American top basketball player today.
At the same time, this decision is less brave than it may seem: It is not so much a gay-friendly or activist statement but an attempt by the league to overcome a number of recent scandals and start off with a clean record again.