Our corporate allies

Whatever else you may think, they represent our best chance to beat back anti-LGBT legislation this session.

With more than 20 anti-LGBT bills pending in the Texas Legislature, a coalition of major employers in the state — including Dell, Samsung and Southwest Airlines — is making the business case for fair treatment of gay, bisexual and transgender people.

More than 50 businesses have joined the coalition, called Texas Competes, by signing a pledge saying LGBT inclusion is essential to maintaining the Texas brand, attracting top talent and new companies to the state, and supporting a healthy tourism industry.

The full list of businesses, which includes 13 from the Fortune 500, will be unveiled Tuesday at a press conference in Austin featuring representatives from the Texas Association of Business, South By Southwest and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Texas Competes spokesman James Shackelford said the coalition won’t take positions on specific legislation and that the effort has been in the works for months, long before anti-LGBT religious freedom laws in Indiana and Arkansas sparked historic backlash from the corporate sector.

“But obviously the timing, when it’s launching and when we’re going public with it, is important,” Shackelford told the Observer.

As Texas Competes says in its About page, they’re not a grassroots or lobbying organization, and they won’t endorse specific bills. They’re here to make a straight-up economic case for embracing equality. Maybe that’s not your preferred line of reasoning, but if it keeps a few legislators from voting Yes on some of those hateful bills, it’s all for the good. As I said before regarding the Texas Association of Business, which is lobbying against bad anti-LGBT bills, we can take advantage of this alignment while still keeping our eyes on the ball. We’d be crazy not to gather all the allies we can get for this.

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