As a small business owner, I’m concerned by the recent trend of states enacting broad religious exemption measures that would allow business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers based on their religious beliefs. This type of legislation can hurt Colorado’s reputation as an inclusive business environment, and that’s bad for small businesses and our economy.
States that passed religious exemption laws quickly experienced negative economic consequences. Indiana lost around $60 million in tourism revenue as major companies canceled events and conventions in the state after its passage of a religious exemption law. What’s more, business groups in North Carolina estimate the state’s new discriminatory law, HB 2, has already cost the city of Charlotte more than $285 million in lost business due to canceled events, loss of economic prospects and large firms pulling out of the area.
It should come as no surprise that Small Business Majority’s polling found two-thirds of small businesses say business owners shouldn’t be able to deny goods or services to LGBT individuals based on the owner’s religious beliefs.
The freedom of religion is important — that’s why it’s already protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. The rule of law is also important, because it ensures that Colorado remains open for business to everyone.
Religious exemption measures can drive away out-of-state businesses and talented employees who are wary of falling victim to discrimination. We need to work to keep Colorado’s business community fair and open for everyone.
Sign the pledge today to keep Colorado open for business to everyone!