Too many businesses to boycott in the LBT bathroom dispute

This editorial ran in the Lenoir, N.C., News-Topic on Monday.

What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, so just as North Carolina is facing boycotts because of House Bill 2, which rolled back anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, it’s entirely appropriate that people who favor barring transgenders from restrooms that match how the world sees them rather than their genetic structure should boycott companies that publicly oppose that view, as some are now calling for a boycott of Target.

It was helpful, then, that Samantha Allen of the website The Daily Beast pointed out a comprehensive list of the companies you are likely to come in contact with regularly that would need to be avoided. The Human Rights Campaign – the largest group fighting to get North Carolina to repeal HB2 – distributes an annual list called the Corporate Equality Index, which measures each company’s support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and the LGBT community overall. Last year, 407 businesses achieved a perfect score of 100 on the index, a score that Allen points out is impossible to achieve without having transgender-inclusive health-care and anti-discrimination policies that include gender identity, so that provides a useful yardstick for boycott efforts.

“If you don’t want your money to go to a company that openly supports transgender people, you can’t buy an iPhone, eat an Egg McMuffin, drink a Sprite, stock up Budweiser, or fill your prescriptions at either of the nation’s two largest pharmacy chains because Apple, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Walgreens, and CVS all scored a 100 on the HRC index,” Allen wrote.

“Good luck flying anywhere without putting money in the coffers of companies that proudly endorse LGBT rights. American, United, Southwest, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines all earned top marks, as did Boeing. If you decide to travel by car instead, be sure you’re not in a vehicle manufactured by Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, or Volkswagen.

“Without a car, you will have to wear non-Nike shoes to walk to your local ATM, where you should withdraw all of your money because most major banks … have a 100 on the CEI. Get used to paying with cash because you will have to shred your credit cards. Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover all have a perfect rating, too.”

“… You can’t buy clothes at JCPenney, Sears, Nordstrom, or, of course, Target, nor can you purchase food sold by General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, or Kroger.”

Least surprising is that you'll have to skip a lot of movies because five of the six major film production companies score a 100. The one that doesn’t is Fox, which like Fox News is owned by conservative Rupert Murdoch, but Fox announced last week it’s joining the boycott of North Carolina, so …

Clearly, trying to reconstruct your life in a way that allows you to avoid doing business with companies that are, in Allen’s words, normalizing equal treatment of LGBT people will be stressful. But watch that stress – the largest provider of health insurance in North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, is on the list too, so you don’t want to get sick before you have a chance to change insurer.

What the CEI actually shows is that history is already well on the way to settling this debate. North Carolina just hasn’t caught up with it yet.