Business Community Leading the Charge for Nondiscrimination Bills

February 3, 2016 • 3:39 pm

From Pennsylvania to Georgia to Florida, businesses big and small are calling for LGBT nondiscrimination protections

WASHINGTON – State legislatures across the country are considering bills that would either advance comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, expose them to unprecedented levels of discrimination. The business community is consistently weighing in and voicing support for inclusive policies and comprehensive nondiscrimination bills that stand to strengthen a state’s economy and brand.

Earlier today, Pennsylvania Competes announced that nearly 1,000 Keystone State employers are supporting passage of the Pennsylvania Fairness Act; legislation which would update the commonwealth’s nondiscrimination law to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The businesses collectively represent an estimated 150,000 employees and range from small family-run businesses to some of the most recognized brand names in the region. Businesses and institutions announcing their support for the Fairness Act include Campbell’s Soup Company, The Hershey Company, Dow Chemical, Penn State University, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, Alcoa and GlaxoSmithKline.

“Business owners of all sizes, whether it’s a small family-owned shop or a Fortune 500 company, are among some of the strongest supporters of legislation that protects LGBT people from discrimination – and it’s no surprise why,” said Matt McTighe, Freedom for All Americans executive director. “We’ve seen first-hand in states like Indiana and Arizona the disastrous economic consequences of lawmakers disregarding the advice of the business community. Nondiscrimination protections make states more prosperous places to work and raise a family, and we’ll continue partnering with businesses to advocate for these types of bills.”

Indiana offers another example of the close ties between nondiscrimination protections and economic growth: A recent report from the Indiana Competes coalition found that municipalities with nondiscrimination protections on the books received 82.7 percent of the new economic investments in the state since April 2015, and 58 percent of new – mostly high-paying – jobs.

In Florida, the business community is leading the way for passage of the Competitive Workforce Act, a bill which would bring comprehensive nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people in the state. The business coalition there is composed of more than 400 employers, including Fortune 500 companies like AT&T, CSX and Walt Disney World. Businesses and organizations representing the state’s tourism industry, retail and lodging associations and realtors are among those calling on lawmakers to pass the nondiscrimination legislation.

In Georgia, the group Georgia Prospers recently formed and is comprised of hundreds of local business who support nondiscrimination protections. Members of Georgia Prospers include Coca Cola, Delta, Home Depot and UPS. Lawmakers in Georgia are currently considering more than a half-dozen bills that include harmful religious exemptions. The bills would, to varying degrees, allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. Freedom for All Americans is working with our partners on the ground through Georgia Unites to stop these harmful bills and amend a civil rights bill to include nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Georgians.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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