Republicans rolled into power in North Carolina touting the slogan “North Carolina is open for business.” The small print said “as long as you’re straight, white and Christian.” Since they’ve taken power in the state, the GOP has passed a series of bills that clearly discriminate against the LGBT community and discourage voting among minorities. In response, businesses are boycotting the state and a few are moving out.
Republicans like Lt. Governor Dan Forest claim the economic impact is minimal, only costing the state 0.1% of our GDP. But that’s a reflection of the size of our economy, not the damage done by the loss of businesses. A study by the AP says that HB2 and its negative publicity will cost the state $3.76 billion over 12 years. That’s a lot of money and likely is an underestimation since we don’t know how many companies decided not to consider North Carolina for expansion or conventions.
Forest and his allies seem to have won the fight within the GOP. While some members of the party wanted to repeal the law, Forest has been unabashed supporter of keeping it intact. Forest told the Texas legislature, which is considering a similar measure, that the economic impact of HB2 has been minimal. His supporters have been on social media explaining that a loss of more than $500 million a year isn’t really that much. It’s strange place to find the party of fiscal responsibility.
So, what makes the GOP so intransigent on an issue that’s so damaging to our economy and reputation? Marriage equality. Social conservatives thought they had enshrined discrimination into the constitution when the Supreme Court ruled their beloved Amendment 1 unconstitutional.
House Bill 2 is their backlash. They’re punishing the LGBT community for demanding to be treated equal and they’re using the law to prevent local governments from protecting a minority that’s suffered heavily from discrimination. The repeal effort is stymied because Democrats won’t accept a solution that prevents local nondiscrimination ordinances and the GOP won’t accept one that will.
The debate over repealing House Bill 2 has exposed the North Carolina GOP’s ideological bankruptcy. The party of limited government is using the heavy hand of state government to prevent local control. The party of fiscal responsibility is arguing that losing $500 million a year in business revenue is no big deal. For the GOP right now, discrimination is the overarching principle.