Lost in his campaign’s pathetic fumbling of the public lands issue has been one of other great reasons to vote against Greg Gianforte: if elected, he will work to enact discriminatory policies that will make Montana a less tolerant, less successful state.
Mr. Gianforte has enthusiastically signed on to the conservative Republican agenda of endorsing legalized separate but equal status for the LGTBQ community, arguing that it’s better for business when advocates for human rights for the LGBTQ community just keep quiet and that communities and states ought to protect the “religious freedom” to discriminate.
During the debate over Bozeman’s adoption of a non-discrimination ordinance, Gianforte went so far as to contend that “homosexual advocates try to argue that business are leery of locating in towns that aren’t friendly to homosexuals. I believe the opposite is truer.”
The moral cost of discriminating against the LGBTQ community has long been understood by those of us who believe in fundamental human rights, but the economic costs are becoming apparent now, too. It turns out that businesses and travelers don’t want to be seen as sponsoring discrimination—and will avoid the states and communities that endorse the practice.
North Carolina is learning that cost in real time in front of us. The state has not only lost business from tech firms like PayPal and banks like Deutsche Bank and entertainers like Bruce Springsteen and Boston; now it’s lost the NBA All-Star Game, with an enormous economic cost for Charlotte:
The NBA’s decision to pull its All-Star Game out of Charlotte means an estimated loss of $100 million to the city’s economy.
The city’s visitors authority said tourists were expected to spend as much as $60 million and rent hotel rooms for a total of 27,000 nights during the All-Star weekend.
The influx of cash would have also triggered a $40 million spending spree by Charlotte businesses and the employees of its hotels and restaurants, the authority figured.
Now, Montana is unlikely to land a major league sports franchise anytime soon, but the state is a huge draw for tourists, corporate retreats, and other groups who want to appreciate for a few days what it must be like to live in the most beautiful place in the world. We even land a few giant concerts once in awhile, all things that would be threatened if we elect a governor who has committed, personally and financially, to discrimination.
There is no doubt that a Governor Gianforte would work with Republicans in the Legislature to pass laws like those of Indiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina, to the detriment of all of us.
Mr. Gianforte seems unable to learn that Montanans don’t need his permission to access our public lands and unwilling to admit that permitting discrimination is not only morally, but economically disastrous. Let’s reject his discriminatory agenda and dunk his flopping, fear-based campaign to make Montana a worse place to live, work, and visit.