The last couple of months, we have seen a worrying trend erupting, mostly in the southern states; where various anti-LGBT laws of varying severity have either been tried to put into law or actually put into law.
As we’ve discussed before, there has been a pretty huge backlash from companies, celebrities and LGBTQ advocates over these anti-LGBT laws.
President Barack Obama has largely stayed out of these battles, but the White House has issued it’s most substantial statement on the issue yet. This came about when Josh Earnest, the President’s Press Secretary, was asked if Tennessee’s law “could result in loss of federal funding for the state”.
To which, Josh replied: “This is a question that individual agencies have been considering after previous states have passed these bills into law. I don’t know what mechanism is in place for individual agencies to consider those kinds of questions in advance of a law being passed, but you can check with the Department of Education for greater clarity on that. What I can tell you is that the administration is firmly committed to promoting and defending equal rights of all Americans, including LGBT Americans.”
“And specific laws like this that seek to target and marginalize one small segment of the population is nothing less than mean-spirited. That was true when they passed similar provisions in places like North Carolina and Mississippi, and it’s true even as it’s being considered in a place like Tennessee. What’s also true in Tennessee is that the state has thrived economically in part because of their ability to make their case to businesses across the country that they’ve got a great climate for doing business.”
“Passing mean-spirited bills through the state legislature is not a good endorsement of your business climate. And ultimately, individual businesses will have to make their own decisions about this. I think what is also true is that states like Tennessee and, to a certain extent, North Carolina and Mississippi, have a long history even over the last couple of generations of working through questions of civil rights.”
“And President Obama has talked on a number of occasions about the important progress that our country has made with regard to civil rights. This is a good illustration that the fight for civil rights is not over, and demanding equality for every American and ensuring that those Americans are not singled out or targeted because of their sex or their race or what their last name is, or their religion, or who they love or who they are is a struggle that continues. And the President, every time, is going to be on the side of equality and fairness and justice for every American.”
Then, the Press Secretary was asked when the reviews of the laws in North Carolina and Mississippi will conclude.
“I don’t have an expectation for that. You’ll have to talk to the individual agencies about that. They’re obviously coordinating their activities among themselves, and they’re obviously doing this work in conjunction with the Department of Justice, because there are important legal questions that have to be resolved. But I don’t have an update for you in terms of when that work will be concluded.”
So it seems that as well as facing external pressure from big name companies, the potential loss of jobs and influential celebrities, these states are also facing pressure from within.