If North Carolina were a fictional character, it would be the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, shrieking, “‘Tis but a scratch!” while its limbs were being hacked off. Due to Republican state lawmaker’s indolent refusal to repeal HB 2, the state will be losing out on yet another economic opportunity as a conference planned to be held in Charlotte relocates elsewhere.
The Business History Conference, an affiliate of the American Historical Association, has announced that it has moved the location of its 2018 meeting from Charlotte to Baltimore. In a press release, Roger Horowitz, the secretary-treasurer of the Business History Conference, noted that the decision to relocate the conference was in response to the continued refusal of the state to repeal HB 2, which overturned all local ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
Horowitz notes that the action follows nine months of internal deliberation among the conference’s members, many of whom did not want to be seen condoning the state’s decision to leave the discriminatory law in effect. BHC’s trustees voted to cancel the hotel contract with the Charlotte Marriott in early December, but had held off amid speculation over a deal under which the state would repeal the HB 2 law in its entirety. That deal failed after Republican legislators insisted on a “cooling off” period during which no localities would be able to pass any laws related to nondiscrimination measures.
Horowitz told Inside Higher Ed that about 300 people typically attend the conference, and spend $120,000 on lodging costs. That does not include the cost of food, drinks, entertainment or other expenses that attendees would typically incur during a stay in a city — money that could have benefitted local businesses.
“We want to commend Marriott for its constructive participation in these deliberations and make clear we have no grievances with its Charlotte hotel. … The hotel also provided unconditional assurances that it would not enforce the HB2 law; we nots that Marriott’s opposition to the law is robust and a matter of record,” Horowitz wrote in his statement. “Nonetheless, we simply cannot meet in a state that sanctions discrimination against LGBT individuals — which includes some of our own members.”