Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Coming Texas Gay Brain Drain

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, gays living in states with gay marriage bans will find themselves unable to receive federal benefits - Social Security in particular - that same sex couples in states with gay marriage will now enjoy.  The result?  The anti-gay states will find themselves even less competitive when it comes to attracting gay entrepreneurs and gay friendly businesses.   As I have often noted, but for family circumstances, I would leave Virginia in a heart beat.  Hopefully, with the changes wrought by the Windsor decision, more gays will begin to move to gay friendly states and big business will be motivated to take on the power of the Christofascists in states like Texas and Virginia.  A piece in The Dallas Voice looks at what may happen in Texas.  Here are highlights:

Although same-sex couples legally married in other states may receive some federal benefits if they live in Texas, they won’t receive as many federal benefits as couples living in marriage-equality states.

And because it could be anywhere from a few years to a decade or more before Texas recognizes same-sex marriages, some experts believe the talent pool for employers will shrink as LGBT Texans leave the state and others opt against relocating here.

Bob Witeck, president of the Washington, D.C.-based LGBT marketing company Witeck Communications Inc., first analyzed the concept of “gay brain drain” in 2004 when Massachusetts began allowing same-sex marriage. Now, 13 states allow same-sex marriage, covering a third of the nation’s population, and the playing field has put marriage-equality states ahead.

Places with marriage equality like New York, Washington, D.C. and California that also have a lot of talent compete with states like Texas and Illinois for employees and companies to boost state revenue. But unlike Illinois, which is in line to have marriage equality, Witeck said Texas is lagging behind strong business states because of its focus on social issues.

GOP politicians in Texas haven’t caught up to conservative business leaders — many of them also Republicans — who value the economic opportunity from LGBT equality and same-sex marriage.

“It deepens the challenges in corporate America to speak to these inequities,” he said. “It’s going to create the impression that [marriage-equality states are] forward thinkers and the others are not.”

Perry may soon find the reasons companies aren’t bringing their businesses to Texas. He signed HB 2482 in June that will create a study to determine why major companies have chosen to invest or relocate to other states after considering Texas.

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said while a gay brain drain is possible, the full effect of the high court’s rulings may not be felt for a few years.  “I think there will be some danger of something like that happening,” Henson said. “It’s too early to tell. …What we’re more likely to see than a brain drain is a reluctance of people who want marriage equality to move here in the short term.”

For places like Dallas, Austin and Houston where companies and cities have LGBT-inclusive polices, officials and employers are concerned about losing talent and being able to recruit future talent. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he’s concerned about LGBT people leaving the city and avoiding moving to Texas altogether.

John Cramer, CEO of AT&T’s LGBT resource group LEAGUE, said management at Dallas-based AT&T has already discussed the possibly of being able to retain and attract LGBT employees and have begun brainstorming on how to remain competitive.   “AT&T is looking into this issue and met with folks inside and outside the network to see what other companies are doing,” Cramer said.

In Virginia, the lunatic GOP slate of statewide candidates is gaining national media coverage on their extremism and anti-gay vitriol.  Even if Ken Cuccinelli doesn't want to accept reality, he and his Christofascist supporters are dimming Virginia's economic future.

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