Thursday, April 02, 2015

How Big Business is Pushing the Fight for Equality

As Republicans continue to reel over the reaction to Indiana's animus inspired "religious freedom restoration act" - a/k/a license to discriminate law - one thing that has caught them most by surprise is the sharp condemnation and threats of boycotts spearheaded by big business.  In the past Republicans pandering to Christofascists and hate groups like Family Research Council and the American Family Association have believed that they would suffer little push back for their bigotry and subversion of the religious freedom rights of non-Christofascists.  Now, that dynamic seems to have flipped and retribution by the business community seems assured.  The CEO of Starbucks even has gone so far as to tell anti-gay shareholders to sell their stock if they don't like the company's pro-gay stances. Hence on reason Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson had a sudden epiphany and declared that he would not sign the Arkansas bill without a number of changes.  Hopefully, the GOP is learning a harsh lesson.  Here are highlights from a Washington Post column on this new dynamic:
The outrage directed at the Hoosier State and others is being led by big business. And that’s awesome.

In a terrific column yesterday, Catherine Rampell wrote about how “the economics of discrimination seems to have been flipped on its head.” In the past, if the employers, employees and customers of a business “had a taste for discrimination” then that business had every incentive to condone it. It wasn’t bad for business. Today, the dynamic has changed. “If … firms feared that customers would punish them for inclusiveness,” Rampell writes, “today firms fear customers will instead punish them for exclusiveness.”

Here’s another way the dynamic has changed. The loudest voices demanding integration of lunch counters and other public accommodations in the 1960s belonged to African Americans. Through courage and moral conviction they changed hearts and minds on civil rights and racial equality. Today, in this current fight over equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, what we are seeing is business not so much acting out of fear, but acting out of conscience.

“Men and women have fought and died fighting to protect our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality,” wrote Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook against the Indiana law. “We owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to make sure we protect those ideals.” Apple is ranked No. 5 on the Fortune 500 list, is worth $700 billion and has $178 billion in cash on hand.

“This is just plain wrong and … and we will not stand for it,” said Arne Sorenson, president of Marriott International, of the Indiana law.

And after a religious-freedom bill passed the state House yesterday on its way to the desk of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), Wal-Mart Chief Executive Doug McMillon urged a veto.  . . . .  Wal-Mart, headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., ranks No. 1 on the Fortune 500 list and is the largest private employer in Arkansas and in the United States. Surely this explains why Hutchinson announced today that he would not sign the religious freedom bill on his desk until it was changed to reflect the federal version.

They didn’t do it because of public pressure from LGBT rights groups. They all did this of their own volition. So, “Where the f— are the gay groups?” For once, they are following as the allies they’ve spent decades cultivating take the lead in a fight for their rights and dignity without having to be asked.
Decent, fair minded Americans are growing in numbers while the Christofascists become a shrinking toxic force in society.  Hopefully, big business will continue to support equality for all and the GOP will ultimately be forced to cast the Christofascists into the political and social wilderness where they belong. I hope the Virginia GOP is watching closely what's happening in Indiana and now Arkansas and will opt to come into the 21st century. 

1 comment:

Stephen said...

The Marriott CEO got my attention. The San Francisco Marriott is a sponsor of the Folsom Street Fair, so I was not completely shocked, but this is a Mormon-owned company.

I think that Pence/Indiana should be pushed to a nondiscrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity law.