The Texas legislature is poised to pass HB 4105, a bill that would prohibit the use of state and local funds to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. While the Texas business community had initially remained silent on the issue, this week Dell, American Airlines, Celanese, GSD&M, and BP have come out to oppose the measure with vigor.
- On Wednesday, Dell Inc., the largest private employer in the Texas capital, announced that it opposed HB 4105 and had communicated that opposition to governor Greg Abbott. Dell went on to say that it considers diversity a “business imperative” and an “important element of the innovation that Dell and other large Texas businesses need.”
- Fort Worth-based American Airlines likewise added its voice to the chorus. According to spokesman Matt Miller, American Airlines opposes “any legislation that directly or indirectly discriminates against individuals based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.” Miller added that such laws, in addition to being patently unfair, also promote “intolerance and division”—and perhaps most importantly, are just plain bad for business.
- Celanese Corporation’s Lori Johnston noted that enacting legislation that “seeks to enshrine discrimination against LGBT people into law” would significantly diminish the pool of STEM talent available to businesses that operate in Texas. Wrote Johnston, HB 4105 “has the potential to harm our competitive advantage in the war for talent.”
- In announcing his company’s opposition to the measure, Orlando Alvarez of oil and gas powerhouse BP observed that a company’s workforce should represent the society in which it operates and reflect an “environment of inclusion”. Alvarez added somewhat ominously that “we expect our community and business partners to act in a way that’s consistent with our sense of fairness and equal opportunity.”
- The Austin advertising agency GDS&M also fiercely opposed the bill. Duff Stewart pulled no punches, announcing unequivocally that "we should all feel ashamed that [Texas's gay marriage ban] is even a topic of conversation". Stewart added, "it's time to defeat this bill, broaden our mind-sets and put an end to discrimination."
Texas has always been proud of its reputation as a business-friendly state, but the current Texas legislature fails to understand that in the 21st century, maintaining such a reputation requires more than advantageous tax policies and cheap real estate. If it continues to ignore the lessons of Indiana and Arkansas, as well as the passionate voices of the state’s most influential business leaders, the legislature risks doing irreparable damage not only to Texas’s reputation, but to its economy as well.
Let your representatives know that you, too, believe HB 4105 is bad for Texas.