WASHNGTON, D.C.—April 4, 2014—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.
NATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Founded in 2002, the NGLCC is the business advocate and direct link between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) business owners, corporations, and government, representing the interest of more than 1.4 million LGBT businesses and entrepreneurs. The NGLCC is committed to forming a broad-based coalition of LGBT owned and friendly businesses, professionals, and major corporations for the purpose of promoting economic growth and the prosperity of our members.
NATIONAL BLACK JUSTICE COALITION is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. NBJC’s mission is to end racism and homophobia. As America’s leading national Black LGBT civil rights organization focused on federal public policy, NBJC has accepted the charge to lead Black families in strengthening the bonds and bridging the gaps between the movements for racial justice and LGBT equality.
Small Business Majority is a national small business organization, founded and run by small business owners, to support America’s 28 million small businesses. We conduct extensive opinion and economic research and work with our rapidly growing network of small business owners across the country to ensure their voices are an integral part of the public policy debate.
US BUSINESS LEADERSHIP NETWORK® is a national non-profit that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace. The USBLN® serves as the collective voice of nearly 50 Business Leadership Network affiliates across the United States, representing over 5,000 businesses. Additionally, the USBLN® Disability Supplier Diversity Program® (DSDP) is the nation’s leading third party certification program for disability-owned businesses, including businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.
US HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Founded in 1979, the USHCC actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs and represents the interests of 3.16 million Hispanic-owned businesses across the United States that together contribute in excess of $468 billion to the American economy. It also serves as the umbrella organization for more than 200 local Hispanic chambers and business associations in the United States and Puerto Rico.