This year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) turned down $325,000 in donations from Bank of America over the bank’s role in brokering a flawed repeal of North Carolina’s transphobic bathroom bill (aka. HB2).
The so-called “repeal” of HB2, known as HB142, basically banned cities from passing any pro-LGBTQ legal protections until 2020 (at which point the ban can expire or be renewed). It also let the Republican-led state legislature decide the laws governing bathrooms. So though North Carolina no longer requires transgender people to use the bathrooms matching the gender on their birth certificates, it doesn’t offer them any protection against harassment or prosecution in bathrooms either.
The HRC says it “doesn’t accept corporate sponsorships from companies whose actions undermine LGBT equality” and has since reduced Bank of America’s score in the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) from a perfect 100 to 75 for its role in crafting HB142. A CEI score indicates a corporation’s support of pro-LGBTQ policies. The HRC also reduced the CEI score of the health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield for the same reason.
The HRC’s refusal of corporate funds comes at a time when local LGBTQ pride organizations have begun rethinking their relationship to corporate donors as well.
While corporations help advocate for pro-LGBTQ policies and subsidize the millions of dollars required to throw a city pride event, a 2015 study of Chicago’s pride parade entries found that corporate parade entries outnumbered those of LGBTQ groups by a ratio of nearly seven to one.
In response, a few small local groups like QueerBomb Austin have begun throwing annual pride celebrations that refuse corporate sponsorships as a way to reclaim the events roots as a political protest.
After Los Angeles decided to make its 2017 pride parade a political protest march against U.S. President Donald Trump, corporate sponsors began pulling out.
Conceivably however, businesses could possibly benefit from opposing Trump. As fourtwonine.com noted, “Nordstrom’s beef with Ivanka led to a spike in stock prices and advertisers who subtly (and not so subtly) critiqued Trump’s immigration policies in their Super Bowl ads received oodles of favorable press coverage.”
(Featured image by mattjeacock via iStock Photography)