Microsoft and Expedia are among 68 companies that have signed an amicus brief from the Human Rights Campaign in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s effort to block parts of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, also known as the “bathroom bill.”
DOJ is seeking to temporarily stop enforcement of part of the multifaceted law that bans transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity in government facilities.
“At Microsoft, we believe everyone should be welcomed, respected and valued. Ultimately, diversity is good for our people, our business, and the economy,” a company spokesperson said about Microsoft’s participation in the brief.
— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) July 8, 2016
Organizers of a similar “bathroom bill” in Washington announced today they haven’t collected enough signatures to get the measure on the November ballot. Initiative 1515 sought to make public school bathrooms and locker rooms only available to “biologically male or female individuals regardless of their gender identity and limit state and local regulations governing gender-identity discrimination, according to the measure.” Microsoft, along with tech giants Amazon, Google, Adobe and Facebook opposed that measure.
Backlash to North Carolina’s bill has been swift. Some estimates conclude that it could cost the state thousands of jobs and half a billion dollars in economic investments. Perhaps the most high profile response came from PayPal, which cancelled plans to expand its presence there, citing the discriminatory nature of HB2.
“HB2 is a law that forces transgender persons to deny, disclaim, and conceal their gender identity, particularly whenever they wish to use single-sex restroom facilities on state or local government property,” said Theodore B. Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general who wrote the brief. “In so doing, it forces transgender people to deny a fundamental feature of their character and personhood in the name of safety concerns that are wholly illusory and a slap in the face to all transgender persons who are simply trying to live their lives consistent with who they really are. That so many in the business community are willing to stand up in opposition to HB2 underscores the immeasurable and irreparable harm the law is doing to the transgender community and to North Carolina’s economy.”
Here is a list of all 68 companies that signed the brief.
Accenture, Affirm, Inc., Airbnb, Inc., American Airlines, Apple, Biogen, Bloomberg LP, Boehinger Ingleheim USA, Box, Brocade Communications System, Inc., Capital One Financial Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc., Consumer Technology Association, Corning Incorporated, Cummins Inc., Dropbox, Inc., Dupont, eBay, Inc., Etsy, Everlaw, Expedia, FiftyThree, Galxyz, Gap Inc., General Electric Company, Glassdoor, Inc., Grokker, Hilton Worldwide, Honor, IBM Corporation, IKEA North American Services, LLC, Instacart, Intel Corporation, John Hancock, Levi Strauss & Co., LinkedIn Corporation, Logitech, Marriott International, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Microsoft Corporation, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Morgan Stanley, Nextdoor, NIKE, OppenheimerFunds, Orbitz Worldwide, PayPal, Pepo, Quotient, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Red Hat, Replacements, Ltd., Salesforce, Slack, SV Angel LLC, Symantec Corporation, TD Bank, NA, Teespring, The Dow Chemical Company, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, ThirdLove, Tumblr, UnifyID, United Airlines, Inc., Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Yelp, ZestFinance, and Zynga.
Microsoft — which has dedicated resource groups for women, racial minorities, LGBT people and parents — has worked to broaden its products’ appeal and make its workplace friendly to people from a variety of backgrounds. It has announced communities for like-minded gamers that are intended to serve as online safe spaces, and earlier this month at the E3 conference Xbox head Phil Spencer announced more details behind its Gaming for Everyone effort. Spencer wrote:
While we have a lot of work ahead of us, I’m incredibly excited about what the future holds as we put all of our products through the lens of reflecting the diversity in our audience and inclusion, support and choice for all gamers. I encourage all of our partners and fans to join us on this journey.