The gulf between LGBT activists who support boycotting the state over its new immigration law and those who don’t widened considerably on Friday when a leading Latino activist, who is also gay, pooh-poohed the idea.
If the reception to opposing boycotts as a response to House Bill 87 is anything like the reception we received when we criticized the idea in April, Jerry Gonzalez ought to stay out of gay bars and businesses for a while. Gonzalez (top photo) is the gay executive director of the Georgia Association of Latin Elected Officials and on Friday, he strongly condemned the state’s new law but added that “a boycott would devastate Georgia’s tourism and convention industry.”
“Many Latinos and immigrants depend on this, and other industries, for their livelihood,” Gonzales said in a statement from GALEO.
When Gonzalez explained to us in April why gay Georgians should care about immigration and then-pending efforts in the General Assembly to enact tough restrictions, he deftly avoided discussing the threat of a boycott from local and national LGBT groups.
Now firmly against a boycott, Gonzalez splits from a mounting LGBT effort to organize one. LGBT grassroots group Southerners on New Ground reiterated its call for a boycott when Gov. Nathan Deal (bottom photo) signed H.B. 57 into law on May 13.
“We are calling on all businesses, conventions, and conferences to cancel your trips to the State of Georgia and pledge to not spend one dollar here until this law is repealed,” SONG co-director Paulina Hernandez says in a prepared statement.
Georgia’s new immigration law allows police to investigate the immigration status of suspects. The law also punishes people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants or use fake identification to get a job in the state.
The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force introduced the idea of a boycott over the law in early April. That’s when it threatened to pull its 2013 convention from Atlanta.
Organizing a boycott could also pit LGBT activists against some of metro Atlanta’s most gay-friendly companies, including Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola and Home Depot. Delta and Coke routinely notch a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, while Home Depot scores in the high 80s out of a possible 100.
“We are also putting the nation on alert that there may be soon a Georgia Products boycott as well – so stay alert and be prepared to stay away from businesses such as Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and AFLAC Insurance,” Hernandez says.
Some LGBT-owned businesses and organizations in Atlanta are already taking action by signing onto a movement offering BuySpot & Sanctuary Zones, which offers a pledge supporting universal human rights. Charis Books & More was the first to join the effort this week that now also includes Radial Café, MondoHomo Queer Music & Arts Festival, Gentle Spirit Christian Church, GetEQUAL Georgia and Queer Justice League.