The national spotlight was cast on the state of North Carolina last month when Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law, effectively banning local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules that would provide protections for gay and transgender peoples. The law was a reaction to a measure passed by the city of Charlotte that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination by businesses.
The new law has particular significance for AACRAO as we are scheduled to hold our Technology and Transfer conference in Charlotte in July of 2017. In response to the legislation, I sent a letter to the Governor McCrory on behalf of the AACRAO Board of Directors expressing our concerns with the legislation (see attached letter). The legislation runs counter to AACRAO's deep commitment to access, opportunity, and inclusiveness.
AACRAO was not alone in condemning the legislation. The CEOs of more than 80 corporations signed a letter urging the governor to rescind the bill. PayPal scrapped plans to create 400 new jobs by expanding its operations to Charlotte. Deutsche Bank dropped its plan to add 250 jobs at its software development center in North Carolina. Prominent musicians have canceled their concerts in North Carolina and numerous organizations have canceled scheduled conferences and meetings. Several cities and states have issued travel bans to North Carolina and the UK issued a travel warning for its citizens visiting North Carolina.
In the year since the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, a wave of related bills have been proposed in states, many that would result in discrimination against LGBTQ people. Currently, there are some 100 active bills in 22 states. These include state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, first amendment defense acts, pastor protection acts, bills where judges and clerks can refuse to perform same-sex marriages or issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, bills that would allow businesses to refuse to provide services or goods based on their religious beliefs, and bills that ban or criminalize transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity. California (AB 1212) and South Carolina (SB 210) have bills that would require public universities to fund student organizations irrespective of whether they allow discrimination based on religious beliefs. Supporters of inclusiveness have their work cut out for them around the country.
AACRAO will continue to monitor the situation in North Carolina and make a determination about the feasibility of proceeding with our Technology and Transfer conference next summer in Charlotte or look to another location. The AACRAO Board of Directors will be examining the association's positions on diversity and inclusiveness to ensure that we are adequately positioned to respond to the changing national landscape and prepared to meet the needs of our members and the students they serve.
AACRAO Letter to Governor Pat McCrory