October 25, 2016
San Antonio, Texas – Equality Texas, the statewide organization working for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans, today released a letter signed by more than 200 small businesses opposing any legislation that would legalize discrimination against LGBT Texans and visitors to Texas.
A news conference to release the letter was held in San Antonio, the state’s #1 tourism destination and home to the $75 million dollar NCAA Final Four in 2018.
“We have significant concerns that Texas and San Antonio tourism will suffer as we make headlines for being the latest state to push a discriminatory agenda. We’ve seen it happen around the country, and when tourism suffers, it’s not just numbers in the news. Real small businesses, real jobs, and real revenues are affected,” said Anel Flores, owner of A&N Realty.
Small business owners from 36 municipalities across Texas signed the letter, highlighting the damage discriminatory legislation does to the economy. North Carolina’s economy has lost nearly $500 million to date after lawmakers passed anti-LGBT legislation in early 2016. Now business owners are raising their voices to ensure that Texas avoids even greater damage if lawmakers pursue the anti-LGBT agenda they are currently calling a “priority.”
“The threats of discriminatory legislation are an attack on small businesses and on our economy. Legislators are talking about an imagined threat, but people who work in small businesses are real people: business owners, managers, chefs, and housekeepers. The people proposing these laws don’t just ignore what hard-working Texans need to get by – they are putting our livelihoods in jeopardy,” said Justin Holley, Principal of San Antonio’s ABH Hospitality Management.
“I’m a conservative business owner; anyone who supports discriminatory legislation is anti-business. My husband and I pay taxes and employ people who depend on their jobs. We cannot let the lieutenant governor destroy our businesses because he wants to push discriminatory legislation that has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to other states. In San Antonio we have already committed millions of tax dollars to upgrades for the 2018 NCAA Final Four. When we have events like that, the fans come into our businesses, and they spend – and that’s our bottom line,” said Jody Bailey Newman, owner of The Friendly Spot and Alamo Street Eat Bar and co-owner of Hills & Dales, B&D Ice House, and the Newman Project.
“Millennials will make up 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2030 and they do not want to work in a city or state that discriminates against anyone. We will be at risk of cutting off our talent pipeline if we do not send a message that Texas embraces inclusion and diversity,” said Rebel Mariposa, millennial owner of San Antonio restaurant La Botanica.
“Texas has always been a place of fierce independence and a great big pioneering spirit. Ours is a state where you can work hard and forge your own path. Companies, voters, and political donors won’t stand for legislators dictating government overreach into individual liberties,” said David Wyatt, Co-Founder of Austin-based Wyatt Brand.
“We are firm believers in equality and fairness. We are a minority, woman-owned business and we are proud of the inclusiveness we enjoy in Texas. Our state legislation needs to reflect that inclusiveness,” said Diana Donatti, President of Houston-based Donatti Translation & Interpreting.
Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas, added, “Lt. Governor Dan Patrick says one of his priorities for the upcoming legislative session is the so-called ‘Women’s Privacy Act.’ We believe Dan Patrick is using this false name to try to pass legislation to discriminate against LGBT Texans. We know Texans are smart enough to see through this façade and urge the lieutenant governor to consider the needs of small businesses and the people they employ, instead of pursuing this and other discriminatory legislation that is sure to do significant damage to those businesses and to the Texas economy.”
The letter and a list of signers can be found at www.equalitytexas.org/small-business. The letter will remain open for small businesses to sign.
Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working solely to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.