Following North Carolina’s passage of HB2, the bill rushed through a special session of the legislature that criminalizes trans people’s use of bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, a large number of businesses condemned the measure. PayPal announced that they were canceling plans to expand in North Carolina. Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert. The porn site, xHamster, is blocking IP addresses from the state.
A story that the NBA would be moving next year’s All-Star Game from Charlotte to another city turned out to be fake, but it was widely shared because people have been calling on the league to do exactly that. As the public backlash to HB2 escalated, it seemed plausible that they just might do it.
But as Buzzfeed reported earlier today, a number of the business interests that have publicly expressed disapproval with North Carolina’s new discriminatory law — and with Governor Pat McCrory for signing it — still plan on donating to the Republican Governors Association this year, thereby indirectly aiding in Governor McCrory’s re-election bid:
Although the group supports Republican governors across the country, RGA will spend a significant amount of its resources in 2016 focusing on the Tar Heel state. McCrory’s re-election battle against Democrat Roy Cooper is expected be one of the closest gubernatorial contests in the country this cycle. Another state where the RGA will spend some resources is Indiana, where some of the same companies criticized Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to sign a religious freedom law last year.
BuzzFeed News reached out to nearly two dozen companies and trade groups that have given to RGA in the past to become corporate members of the group and have come out against the North Carolina law. None of them said they would be making any changes in their giving over the law.
Most major companies looking to influence policy or maintain their relationship with lawmakers on the state level typically give to both Democratic and Republican gubernatorial groups. Although they didn’t waste any time in criticizing McCrory’s decision, not giving to to the RGA — especially at a time when Republicans control the majority of statehouses and governorships — is a much more difficult decision.
So while companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Dow Chemical, Pfizer, Citigroup, and Pepsi have all signed onto a letter condemning North Carolina’s Republican governor, all of them will be helping him secure re-election — in what is shaping up to be a close race largely because of HB2’s unpopularity.
Companies have taken an interest in being publicly LGBT-friendly of late, as public sentiment toward inclusion and equality has moved safely into positive territory. However, their less-public actions like political contributions serve as a reminder that they are, first and foremost, self-interested profit machines. Discrimination may be bad business, but so is cutting ties with the party that promises to cut your taxes and get rid of pesky regulations.
So they’re performing inclusion and practicing profit. Which makes sense, I guess, but also adds a dash of salt to their dance.