Big Businesses Utilizing Economic Power to Bully State Policy Makers
Big businesses are utilizing their economic prowess to reshape American social policy. With the “Bathroom Bill” controversy in North Carolina, and more recently in the case of Gavin Grimm. v Gloucester County (VA) School Board, large corporations are flexing their financial muscles to force state lawmakers to abandon conservative social agendas.
On March 23, 2016, the North Carolina state legislature passed, and Governor Pat McCrory signed, House Bill 2 which required individuals to use public bathrooms associated with the gender listed on their birth certificate and clarified that employees did not have the ability to sue employers for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (1).
The law, which was written to overturn a controversial ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte, also prohibited North Carolina municipalities from creating new, or expanding existing, rights based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. (2)
Many claimed the so-called “Bathroom Bill” caused heated debate over whether or not it “effectively legalized discrimination (3)” within the state.
In response, the NCAA and NBA pulled a combined 8 championship games from the state. Many performers cancelled concerts. Paypal and Deutsche Bank ended their plans to create new jobs in the state (4).
Matt Pesky of Trillium Asset Management claims “North Carolina appears to be headed for what I would call a state-government-inflicted recession” as 60 investors and 200 businesses all voiced their distaste for the law by threatening to remove themselves and their 2.1 trillion dollars of potential revenue from the state (5).
Now, Gloucester County, Virginia is at the center of the firestorm over transgender rights. The United States Supreme Court announced it would review the case of Gavin Grimm V. Gloucester County School Board, but has since returned it to the state court.
A senior at Gloucester County High School, Gavin Grimm, a female student transitioning to a male, is suing the school board after their decision to deny Grimm entry to the male bathrooms on campus. Grimm claims the school’s action violates “Title IX… which protects everyone—including transgender students—from being “excluded from participation in” or “denied the benefits of” any education program or activity on the basis of sex” (6).
Jumping in the middle of the case, 53 corporations signed a brief at the beginning of March defending Grimm’s rights to choose which bathroom to utilize. Combined, those signatures represent a total of 613 billion dollars and include many names you might recognize; Amazon, Apple, Mutual Life Insurance, IBM, and Yelp, to name a few (7).
Further complicating the issue is a recent letter from the Trump administration that counteracts the policies laid forth by President Obama during his last term in office. Within the letter, Trump “rescinds” the previous protections afforded to transgender students and puts those decisions in the hands of the States and individual school boards (8). Due to this change in policy, the Court decided not to hear Grimm’s case and returned it to the state court (9).
Private citizens who disagree with the liberal stances of these big businesses are using their own financial might to fight back through organizations like the American Family Alliance (AFA).
The AFA is most notable for the nation-wide Target Boycott. After Target announced they would allow customers to use the bathroom of their choice in the company’s stores, 1.4 million people signed the AFA boycott and stopped shopping at the retailer, resulting in a startling sales decrease of 7.2% (10). In addition to the loss of foot traffic, Target’s stock value has plummeted to a near-historic, 45-year low (11).
So, while multi-billion dollar corporations might think they have the upper hand in the culture wars, individual Americans are opposing their social engineering. Buying a coffee from Starbucks does not make them our representative; it just means we have a sugar addiction.