In recent years, it’s become as obvious to big business as it has to the rest of us that equality for LGBT people benefits everyone.
The NBA and other professional sports leagues have consistently spoken out against laws such as North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which promotes discrimination against LGBT people.
Last week, the NBA announced that the 2017 All-Star Game will be moved out of North Carolina because of their Legislature's refusal to repeal House Bill 2 — and New Orleans is the top choice for a new venue.
Louisiana is only in the running for this event because we have consistently refused to pass these kinds of laws over the past few years. Our governor, our Legislature, and our citizens have sent the world a message that discrimination is #NotMyLouisiana — and the world is listening.
It’s not remotely credible to claim Louisiana would be just fine if we passed a “Pastor Protection Act” or “Marriage and Conscience Act” like North Carolina or Mississippi, no matter what Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier City or Rep. Alan Seabaugh of Shreveport want people to think. It’s only our reputation as a fair-minded place to do business that has us poised to pick up next year’s NBA All-Star Game. The NBA's decision to move the All-Star game sends a clear message to any city or state that wants to host a major sports event — you can't compete if you're not inclusive.
Tourism and major events are the lifeblood of Louisiana’s economy. People come from all over the world to experience our food, culture, and history, and to attend concerts, festivals, and events at our extraordinary venues. We can’t afford to make the same mistakes as North Carolina and jeopardize our future as one of America’s great destinations.
I hope that our legislators remember this moment when it comes time to convene for the 2017 legislative session. And I hope that our voters remember this moment when choosing our next leaders. Louisiana’s diversity is a strength and it would be a shame to forget that.
managing director, Equality Louisiana
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