Forbes Adds LGBT Equality to Annual Best States for Business Index

By Adam Polaski • November 16, 2016 • 12:08 pm

Forbes released its best and worst states for businesses in 2016 today, and for the first time ever the rankings include a measure looking at state-level nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The addition to the Forbes criteria comes during a year in which HB 2, the discriminatory anti-transgender law in North Carolina that bans transgender people from using public restrooms, has the cost state nearly a billion dollars. The state’s governor, Pat McCrory, appears poised to lose his re-election bid specifically because of the discriminatory law and its impact on the economy.

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Forbes noted that anti-LGBT laws impact a state’s economy: “LGBT policies are affecting the bottom line in places like North Carolina, which passed the controversial HB2…The measure has already cost the state an estimated $630 million in economic activity. The NBA, ACC and NCAA pulled sporting events from the state and Deutsche Bank and PayPal halted expansions. “Some clients are actively staying away from North Carolina because of [HB2],” says Jeff Lessard, who works with clients on their occupancy and location strategies at Cushman & Wakefield.”

“It’s timely that Forbes will now include LGBT nondiscrimination protections in their Best States for Business list, and it reflects growing awareness that anti-LGBT bills are damaging to a state’s economy and brand,” said Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans. “There is a growing consensus in the business community that laws protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination are critical for their success. Whether they are recruiting top talent, considering where to hold their next conference or deciding where to move or expand, business leaders want to make sure their employees, families and customers will be protected from discrimination.”

It’s not just North Carolina that has felt the economic impact of anti-LGBT legislation. Indiana’s economy has lost more than $60 million in revenue after now Vice President-elect Mike Pence signed a discriminatory religious refusal measure into law.

Freedom for All Americans is a leading partner with many state and local business coalitions that are working to protect LGBT people from discrimination, including Freedom Massachusetts, Georgia Prospers, Indiana Competes, Missouri Competes, Texas Competes, and Washington Won’t Discriminate.

“When everyone is treated equally and fairly under the law, we all succeed,” added McTighe. “Freedom for All Americans is committed to working with business leaders large and small to ensure that no one can be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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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