San Francisco could ban business with N.C.-based firms because of LGBT law

This article first appeared in The Charlotte Observer on April 27, 2016.


A proposed ordinance in San Francisco would prohibit the city from entering into contracts with North Carolina-based companies because of the state’s controversial new LGBT law. The proposal would be a blow to Charlotte-based Bank of America, which has an $8 million contract with the city.

The proposal, introduced Tuesday at the city’s Board of Supervisors, aims to put economic pressure on the state to repeal House Bill 2 just like corporations have done. PayPal, for instance, cited the law in scrapping plans for a global operations in Charlotte.

Proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, the ordinance would build on a travel ban issued a week after Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was the first to initiate a government-funded travel restriction to North Carolina in opposition of the measure.

“I thought it was important to go beyond that. If the private sector can say ‘we’re going to not do business in your state if you do this,’ we as a city should be doing the same. We should not be doing business in states that engage in this kind of despicable behavior,” Wiener told the Observer.

Charlotte-based Bank of America has an $8 million contract with San Francisco to provide depository and payroll services. That contract expires Aug. 31, 2018, SFGate reported.

“We understand the concerns expressed by the City and County of San Francisco, and Bank of America has been very clear in calling for the repeal of North Carolina’s HB 2 based on concerns about the impact of the legislation on our employees and our customers,” bank spokeswoman Colleen Haggerty said.

Wiener said that’s the only NC corporation he’s aware of so far that will bear the brunt of the ordinance, though there could be others.

“Creating economic consequences is a proven way of pushing change along,” Wiener said.

HB2 sets a statewide definition of protected classes of citizens that excludes sexual orientation and gender identity. It also struck down a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

Wiener, who attended Duke University, called the measure a “hate law” that “takes us back to a past era.”

“It’s very scary for our community to have more and more states looking at laws that say ‘you are not full citizens, you are not fully part of our community,’” Wiener said.

Under the board rules, Wiener’s proposal has to sit for 30 days before it has a hearing. If everything goes at a reasonable pace, Wiener said, it will be at the full board of supervisors for a vote sometime in June. Assuming it gets to the mayor and is signed, the proposal would be in effect by late July.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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