The national news media has been full of stories in recent weeks about North Carolina’s controversial new law, called HB 2. In short, the law allows and even encourages discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) individuals. Even the U.S. Justice Department officials are on record as stating the law violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. You can read more about that issue at http://goo.gl/qdPS3U.
Many people, myself included, are boycotting North Carolina businesses until the law can be repealed and full civil rights are restored to all citizens.
The National Genealogical Society got caught in a quandary. The Society had already committed to holding its 2017 conference in Raleigh, North Carolina before the law was enacted. Canceling the plans at this time would mean the violation of contractual commitments, probably resulting in thousands of dollars in financial penalties. Another problem is that finding and planning a new venue is difficult to impossible with only twelve months’ notice.
This left the senior management of the National Genealogical Society with a dilemma: how to hold a conference that will “ensure Raleigh is a safe and welcoming location for all of our 2017 conference attendees.” Now the NGS managers have published a statement, available at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/pressroom/ngs_concern:
NGS States Concerns About HB 2 Impact on Their 2017 Raleigh Conference
With respect to the concerns we have heard about Raleigh and the impact of North Carolina’s recent law, HB 2, the NGS Board of Directors states the following:
The Board is committed to inclusion. NGS does not discriminate and does not knowingly contract with hotels and convention centers that discriminate.
The NGS Board of Directors has sent a letter of concern to the Raleigh Convention Center and our conference hotels, asking that they help ensure Raleigh is a safe and welcoming location for all of our 2017 conference attendees.
At this time, NGS has no plans to move or cancel the 2017 conference. We hope our members and friends will understand that planning a conference is a multi-year undertaking, involving many contractual commitments to other entities and individuals; we need to honor these commitments.
We note that the Mayor of Raleigh, subsequent to the passage of HB 2, said her city: “will continue to support all of our businesses, citizens and visitors with the utmost respect, regardless of race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.” The Wake County Commissioners have noted that “County employees and applicants cannot be discriminated against based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family status or political affiliation. As a board and as a county, we remain committed to those principles.”
The [National Genealogical Society’s] Board respects the individual right of every NGS member to act as he or she deems proper with regard to the North Carolina law or to attending or speaking at the 2017 conference.