Categories: Op-Ed

Standing up against anti-LGBT hate laws

Earlier this year, we began to see laws passed in states like North Carolina and Mississippi that discriminate against LGBT people. These hate laws ban cities from passing statutes to protect LGBT people, require transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate instead of the gender with which they identify, and allow businesses to deny services to LGBT people. As a gay man, I find these laws offensive and hurtful, particularly because they single out our transgender brothers and sisters who continue to experience significant discrimination, violence, unemployment, healthcare denial and homelessness.

Today, at the Board of Supervisors, I will move forward legislation to put San Francisco firmly on the side of those fighting these laws. My legislation prohibits San Francisco from spending money in states that pass these laws, from contracting with companies located in these states and from paying for travel to these states.

Since the introduction of these hate laws, we have seen some inspiring reactions. Members of the LGBT community have gone to war against these threats to our existence as full members of our national community. Leaders of corporate America, including Salesforce and PayPal, have canceled expansion plans. Sports leagues have rebelled, including the NBA’s decision to move the All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans and, most recently, the NCAA’s decision to withdraw championship games from North Carolina. These decisions aren’t just symbolic — they have significant economic impacts. The solidarity that individuals, organizations and companies are showing in taking stands against these laws fill me with pride. I want to thank everyone who has taken a public stand against this hate.

On the other side, the forces behind these laws are digging in their heels. Recently, the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina was reported to have called HB2 (the North Carolina anti-LGBT hate law) “common sense in America.” Even more troubling, he also said “Transgenderism is a feeling … it could be a feeling just for the day.” This statement shows the offensive and ignorant thinking behind these laws.

We can’t — we won’t — let politicians in North Carolina and other states win this fight. Just as businesses like Salesforce and PayPal and organizations like the NBA and NCAA have done, San Francisco must do our part. We must make clear that we won’t stand for these hate laws. Today, the Government Audit and Oversight Committee will hear my legislation to ban public travel to, spending in, or contracting with companies located in states with anti-LGBT hate laws. That means if a business is located or headquartered in North Carolina or Mississippi, we won’t be spending our tax dollars there.

Other jurisdictions have banned travel to states with these kind of laws, as has San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. But, San Francisco will now be the first to ban public spending and contracting in these states, going beyond travel. I hope we are not the last. We need to send a clear message to states like North Carolina that if you judge people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, there will be consequences.

Scott Wiener is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, representing the Castro, Noe Valley, Glen Park and other great neighborhoods.

Scott Wiener

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