Outer Banks Restaurant Association Weighs in on HB2

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On the same day that the U.S. Department of Justice told North Carolina that HB2 violated both Title IX, which bars discrimination in education, and Title XII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination in employment, the Outer Banks Restaurant Association (OBRA) sent a letter to  Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly repudiating the new law.

HB2 was passed in February during an emergency session of the General Assembly to roll back an ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte that extended civil rights protections to the LGBT community and mandated that private businesses within the city allow transgendered citizens to choose restrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms open to the public based on their individual perception of their gender identity.

But the bill also protected North Carolina private sector employers from civil suits based on discrimination claims based on sexual preference, i.e. LGBT issues.

In a May 4 letter, OBRA President Daniel Lewis expressed the sentiment of the group as follows:

“As an association representing the interests of members in a tourism driven economy and hospitality industry, we find it necessary to communicate our position on the recently passed HB2, known as “The Bathroom Bill”.

While we are not here to debate the moral, legal, or social issues related to this bill, it is obvious based on recent events and reaction, that the bill is being viewed as discriminatory and is having adverse effects on the reputation and business interests of North Carolina.

The number of major industry leaders that have denounced the bill, the number of states and localities that have instituted travel bans, the number of companies that have withdrawn growth plans and job creation, the number of organizations that have cancelled visitation or have withdrawn N.C. from consideration for visitation, and the number of events that have already been cancelled have all not only affirmed such strong opposition to this bill, but have also significantly and negatively affected the economy of North Carolina and of the Outer Banks.

As members of the hospitality industry, it is against our nature to conduct ourselves in any manner viewed as discriminatory. Legality aside, it is simply bad for business. Our members have already seen a loss in revenue based on cancellations specifically related to HB2, and our accommodations industry has expressed similar losses.

 We are hoping that adding our collective voice may ring more loudly to the legislative body in that this legislation be reversed. Based on the immense opposition, negative national publicity and tangible economic impact, we feel nothing short of a full repeal will remedy the damage done by this legislation.

We must also express our disappointment with the manner in which this bill was passed, with a lack of consideration to the constituency and to the business community’s concerns, and with such speed as to forego any consideration to possible negative ramifications such as those we are currently experiencing. We hope that going forward, our legislative body will work more closely with our industry, so that together we may continue to build a prosperous economy for North Carolina.

Thank you for your time and consideration.”

 On behalf of the membership of the Outer Banks Restaurant Association, as resolved at our regularly scheduled meeting, May 4. 2016, respectfully,