(Pictured) Charlotte and other North Carolina cities are losing business.
in the wake of the recent passage of two laws widely seen as discriminatory toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community: House Bill 1523 in Mississippi, which in effect allows bias against LGBT people based on religious grounds, and HB2 in North Carolina, which, among other directives, mandates that transgender people use bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificates and eliminates legal protections for them and gay people. In recent news: •
Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International, joined John H. Graham IV, president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives, and numerous other business leaders in signing an open letter
urging the repeal of HB2, written by the Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina and sent to N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory. •
Great Britain issued a travel advisory stating, "LGBT travelers may be affected by legislation passed recently in North Carolina and Mississippi," and offering further tips and resources.•
Reacting to HB1523, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Mississippi Hotel Association and Caesars Entertainment all spoke out against the law.
At press time in North Carolina, more than 20 conventions had canceled in Charlotte or halted consideration of meeting in the state, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, while the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce said its CVB alone reported $3.2 million in lost revenue due to passage of HB2.
Deborah Sexton, president and CEO of the Professional Convention Management Association, urged organizations not to cancel, however, noting that "your CVB partners...weren't part of the legislative process" in a blog post.
Charles Chan Massey of Synaxis Meetings & Events disagrees with this direction. "Politicians only understand dollars, and the only thing that gets their attention is the economic consequences of bad legislation," he said.
Some destinations are making sure the LGBT community knows it is welcome. "We fought and won this debate more than 20 years ago, when we expanded the Broward County Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as a protected classification in 1995," said Nicki E. Grossman, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB.
Legal challenges have been launched against the laws. In March, the ACLU of North Carolina filed suit over HB2 for discrimination. In April, in a Virginia case concerning a transgender teen and a school board's bathroom policy, which could set the tone for future decisions, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1, allowing the teen to sue the school board for discrimination. Gov. McCrory said he "strongly disagrees" with the ruling.