‘Open for Business Coalition’ begins new effort to block anti-gay lawsAround the Nation, Online Only, Top Highlights Friday, April 4th, 2014
WASHNGTON, D.C.—The Open for Business Coalition, comprised of some of the nation’s leading business associations, has formed to actively oppose the so-called “Religious Freedom Bills” that are really anti-gay bills and are currently before several state legislatures.
The coalition formalized its efforts as Miss. Gov. Phil Byrant signed his state’s version of the bill. Many of the coalition members worked together to successfully oppose Arizona’s version of the bill, which Gov. Jan Brewer recently vetoed. At least two other states, Missouri and Oklahoma, have similar forms of this bill progressing through their legislatures.
The coalition is convened by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and members to date include: National Black Justice Coalition; Small Business Majority; US Business Leadership Network; and U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In letters to the Mississippi governor and lawmakers in Missouri and Oklahoma, the coalition stated: “This bill, like the others currently being considered, would not protect ‘religious freedom’ as claimed but would effectively guarantee in state law the right to discriminate against vulnerable minority groups.”
The Open for Business Coalition represents millions of consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses, and corporations in states where this legislation is being progressed, and across the nation. Members believe these backward-looking laws, being pursued under the guise of religious freedom, will have a significant impact on economies where they are passed.
“The legislation works to discourage businesses seeking to expand in given states by shrinking a well-qualified, competitive and diverse workforce. We can see clearly the damaging effect the proposed bills would have on our businesses’ ability to hire and retain the best talent, to attract new customers, and to expand operations into these states,” says Chance Mitchell, co-founder and CEO, NGLCC.
Coalition supporters are emboldened by their success in Arizona, where their strong voices helped lead Brewer to veto Senate Bill 1062.
“No one should face discrimination while going about their daily lives. No one should fear that they might be seated in a separate area while visiting a restaurant, be thrown out of a sporting event, or denied a bank loan simply because of who they love. Given a choice, very few would choose to reside in or visit a state where these laws exist,” says Justin G. Nelson, co-founder and president, NGLCC.
The Open for Business Coalition will galvanize their association members to speak out against the legislation; seek new members to join the coalition; and continue to raise awareness through the media and online.
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