What Would Electing Gianforte Cost Montana Business? The Price of Bigotry Will Be High

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It would seem that Greg Gianforte’s sole qualification for his apparent aspiration to sit in the governor’s chair is that he ran a successful business. While he certainly did run a company and make a great deal of money, electing someone with Mr. Gianforte’s commitment to discrimination would do serious damage to the economy and reputation of the state of Montana.

As has become clear in the past few years, Mr. Gianforte cares about two things: self-promotion and discriminating against the LGBTQ community. When he’s not touring the state to talk about telecommuting, he’s investing his time, money, and reputation into campaigns to deny equal rights to people because of their sexual orientation.

He and his foundation have donated millions of dollars to radically anti-gay organizations like the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a hate group for its virulently anti-gay rhetoric and policy proposals, and the Alliance Defending Freedom, the nation’s largest anti-LGBT legal advocacy group, one that opposes restrictions on bullying and promotes the idea of the freedom to discriminate.

Closer to home, he bankrolls the Montana Family Foundation, which spends every legislative session spreading its hate at the Capitol.

His words speak as loudly as his bank account. Gianforte, opposing a non-discrimination ordinance in Bozeman, wrote the mayor and city council that he believes businesses are more supportive of communities that aren’t friendly to homosexuals:

“Homosexual advocates try to argue that businesses are leery of locating in towns that aren’t friendly to homosexuals. I believe the opposite is truer.”

During Bozeman’s debate on their ordinance, Gianforte pressed for four amendments that echo the language of so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) that have rolled across the country in the past few years. In fact, the Montana Family Foundation tried to pass the same bill here in Montana.

The record is clear: Mr. Gianforte believes in the right to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And it is his support for this kind of legislation that would do so much damage to the state.

And while I find Mr. Gianforte’s personal religious views absurd and hateful, he has every right to them as a private citizen. As a governor, though, those views would likely be devastating to Montana’s economy, as businesss and tourists would be far less likely to support a state associated with a discriminatory agenda. Gianforte would be elevated from a loudmouth with a big megaphone to the voice and face of the state of Montana.

Indiana provides an instructive example of what Montana could look forward to under a Gianforte administration. When the state passed its RFRA law, the state took a series of economic and public relations hits, that put $256.5 million dollars or more at risk.

A quick look at Indiana reveals that the cost of this kind of discriminatory policy can be enormous, and long-lasting. From The Indianapolis Star:

“People may not remember why it is that they have a negative perception of Indiana — but that perception could still linger,” said Kyle Anderson, an economist with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Factor in the possible loss of conventions, tourism and reduced investment from major employers like Salesforce, Anderson said, and “it doesn’t take you long to get into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Some of those decisions can really be long lasting.”

In the wake of Indiana passing its RFRA law, companies across the state—and nation–said they didn’t want to do 18291_882438008482134_5298707645301373542_nbusiness in the state. Angie’s List said it would pull 1,000 jobs, diesel manufacturer Cummins said it was “bad for business and bad for Indiana,” and the NCAA talked about reducing its presence in the state, just to name a few.

In fact, one of Greg Gianforte’s business rivals from a decade ago , Marc Benioff of Salesforce, took the lead against Indiana’s law, threatening to terminate all business with the state and leading other tech companies to follow.

In short order, Indiana became a state no one wanted to do business with.

If Montana elects Governor Gianforte, we can be sure that he will do everything in his power to pass his discriminatory worldview through a likely Republican Legislature, and we can be equally sure that the high tech companies Gianforte thinks he can bring to the state will respond the same way they did in Indiana: with boycotts and public condemnation. Tourists won’t think of our majestic views and friendly people; they’ll wonder if Montana really welcomes everybody and if the bigoted views of the governor reflect the values of the people of the state.

Mr. Gianforte is wrong about the discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community; he’s wrong about the laws that should protect us all. Let’s hope he’s wrong about the values of Montanans, who value our reputation and respect for the dignity and rights of our friends and neighbors.

It’s important that we don’t let him do damage to our state’s economy. It’s even more important that we don’t let him do damage to the way the rest of the country and the rest of the world see us.

 

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

16 Comments

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  • It seems like Gianforte is running around the stare, campaigning and raising funds, and hasn’t even officially announced his candidacy. That’s one way to get around campaign finance laws.

    • And there’s nothing you or any other Democrat can do about it. Boy it bothers you, doesn’t it? Well what are you going to do? That’s right – nothing.

        • Greg just talks because he is lonely and to sell his e-books. He doesn’t care how he gets attention, so long as he gets it. If he only stayed on topic when talking politics he would get more clicks.

  • I hate to keep repeating myself, but it really is incumbent upon people in Montana to find out just WHO the Giantefarts really are. And the only way to do that is to listen extensively to the AFR channels of American family radio. These folks are SCARY crazy and evil! I have listened for so long that I can’t even tune in for a couple’s of minutes any more because I get violently nauseated immediately, and then a headache that lasts for hours. All the nazzie politicos go on there too, louie goatmer, jonie earnst, etc., and on those programs, they really cut loose with the crazy. It’s important to understand that christofascism is a force to be reckoned with. Ya gotta know who we’re dealin’ with here. THEY ARE SERIOUS when they spout christofascist hate! And they’re gettin’ stronger all the time. I meet them all the time in the general public.

  • Can Gianforte be any more behind the times? Well, I guess when you consider his views on social security then yes, he can be way back behind the current times. As an owner of 2 service industry businesses in Helena I am extremely concerned about his back asswards views of the LGBTQ community. He could do some serious damage to my businesses (and the earnings opportunities of the young employees in my hire) with his outdated, bigoted beliefs that have absolutely no validity whatsoever. How can Gianforte overlook what happened in Indiana & believe that things would be any different here in MT?

  • “It’s important that we don’t let him do damage to our state’s economy.”

    Except when it comes to building railroads, fracking, drilling federal lands, building pipelines, shipping coal, mining coal, closing coal plants, harvesting timber, and expanding Stillwater Mines.

  • scary crazy evil diatribe ad hominem bigots racist sexist hates homosexuals because doesn’t want unnecessary laws Christians are the devil. Remind me who the party of tolerance and equality are, because this attack is just garbage. Kind-of reminds me of all the Zinke rants there Don, how’d that work out for “the party of tolerance”.

    • This is admittedly an Internet diagnosis, but given your irrational, almost violent reaction to this post, it seems likely you’re having an allergic reaction due to an exposure to reason and evidence. The only real treatment is to avoid it in the future or keep exposing yourself to both. Maybe one day you’ll be able to muster them in your own arguments.

    • Sonny, it AIN’T hate to hate hate! Sorry, dufus, but you lose again! The family incest channel is NOTHING but a hate group. How do I know? Well, I actually listened to them for many, many years until I felt my mental capacity to tolerate hate was reaching the point of satiety! And I could no longer do it! Yes, I know you inbreds better than you know yourselves. But here, pick a topic of your choice, and let the debate begin!

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