When the Republican legislature of North Carolina forced through a bill in the dead of night legislating the use of public restrooms in the state, they would quickly learn how much of a mistake they had made.
HB2, popularly known as the “Bathroom bill,” required that residents use the public restroom which corresponded to their biological sex. This was an attack on trans residents who had long been using whichever restroom allowed them to most safely pass.
Arguments for the bill were based on a false assumption that trans individuals were sexual deviants and predators. Without this law, they argued, what is to stop a man dressing as a woman to prey on girls in public restrooms?
Opponents to the law argued that it was creating a solution for a problem that didn’t exist. They saw the law for what it was – a direct attack on trans residents and a moral ruling on their way of life.
In response to the legislation – hastily passed and signed by then-Governor Pat McCrory – the state was met with strong resistance, most primarily in a loss of revenue from canceled events.
Though we knew at the time that the damage caused by McCrory’s anti-trans law was significant, the AP has just released their estimate of the lost revenue for the next few years – $3.76 billion.
AP notes that Republicans in the state have assured residents that no revenue was being lost through the bill, but we saw several instances during the peak controversy of the law in which celebrities canceled concerts and businesses canceled plans to invest in the state.
“Over the past year, North Carolina has suffered financial hits ranging from scuttled plans for a PayPal facility that would have added an estimated $2.66 billion to the state’s economy to a canceled Ringo Starr concert that deprived a town’s amphitheater of about $33,000 in revenue.”
The NCAA also continues to avoid the state, previously a favored location, due to the continued persistence of the law.
But it wasn’t just money that the state lost. Governor McCrory also lost his releection bid due primarily to the law and its revenue lost. Though he fought for a recount and passed legislation to cripple the governorship, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is currently fighting to remove HB2 from the lawbooks.
A clear outline of the financial consequences of discriminatory legislation is incredibly important in order to frame the law to other states currently weighing copycat legislation – pass anti-trans laws, and you will feel it for years to come.