Capitol Beat

A Big Deal In Georgia

Linda Pentz
Written by Linda Pentz

The cynical — and probably obvious — view would be that Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, was not moved to veto the state’s newly-passed anti-LGBT legislation out of concern for the reputation of the “character” of Georgians and their state.

Nor did Deal likely have a humanitarian epiphany, despite his syrupy statement about Georgia being “full of loving, kind and generous people.”  Let’s remember that in 2010 Deal lashed out at his then gubernatorial Republican rival, Karen Handel as “out of step with Georgia Republicans because she allegedly supported gay adoption seven years ago.”

Rather, it was the lethal one-two punch of threatened boycotts and lawsuits that stayed his hand.  Because signing the bill would have meant enduring the sounds of silence — the silence of cash registers not ringing.  Long may those law suits rain down.

The cash in question is almost incalculable.  Estimates of Georgia’s annual Hollywood revenue alone exceed $1.7 billion.  Add to that corporate boycotts and the cold shoulder of major sports leagues, and signing the bill could have been fiscal suicide.

We have turned an important corner.  Passing anti-LGBT legislation is no longer about jeopardizing the $884 billion in annual LGBT spending power in the U.S.  It’s about jeopardizing the spending power of major international corporations who support LGBT rights.  This is super, and important, news.

So you’d think Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, might be listening.  Instead, it just passed what Ben Needham, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s southern-focused Project One America described as “probably the worst religious freedom bill to date.”  That put Mississippi governor, Phil Bryant, next up in the veto chair, although all indications at press time were that he would sign the bill.

(As if to exemplify how mixed up and polarized all this is, in the same week a Mississippi judged halted enforcement of the state’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children, a big win for LGBT rights.)

For now, North Carolina is in the crosshairs for boycotts, demonstrations and law suits after its governor, Pat McCrory, signed his state’s anti-LGBT equality bill, causing what could politely be called a hailstorm of trouble.

McCrory says it’s “common sense,” not to understand that transgender women are women, a view that got nimbly turned on its head by self-described “transgender hillbilly,” James Sheffield, who posted a now viral Twitter selfie, beard and all: [email protected] It’s now the law for me to share a restroom with your wife.”

In a more serious moment, Sheffield expostulated:  “They passed a bill to keep men out of women’s rooms (which wasn’t a thing), & by doing so, they ended up putting men in women’s rooms.”

And women in men’s rooms.  Which was perhaps the real intention all along — to endanger transgender people rather than protect heterosexuals.  That’s the only “common sense” conclusion.  If not, then we’re forced to believe that our country is actually consumed with bathroom phobia which is a sad comment indeed for a nation that prides itself on being one of the most “advanced” in the world.