A South Carolina CEO has decided to relocate his financial services business to California after a “bathroom bill” similar to the one passed in North Carolina was proposed.
Uphold CEO Anthony Watson, who describes himself as an “openly gay, British CEO,” has decided to relocate his company to Los Angeles after the anti-LGBT bill was proposed. The company’s move is a significant loss for the state, as Uphold has handled $830 million in transactions since 2014.
In a message posted to the company’s website, Watson criticized South Carolina senator Lee Bright, who proposed the bill earlier this month.
“I have watched in shock and dismay as legislation has been abruptly proposed or enacted in several states across the union seeking to invalidate the basic protections and rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) U.S. citizens,” Watson wrote.
“In recent days, we have been made aware that South Carolina Sen. Lee Bright has introduced a bill largely mirroring North Carolina’s controversial law that blocks local governments from passing LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinances,” Watson added.
“As such, we feel compelled to take action to oppose the discrimination being proposed in South Carolina and protect our LGBT employees.”
Bright defended his bill by saying the following on the Senate floor:
“I mean, years ago we kept talking about tolerance, tolerance, and tolerance, and now they want men who claim to be women to be able to go into bathrooms with children. And you got corporations who say this is okay.”
Governor Nikki Haley largely avoided commenting on the bill by referencing a 1999 law that she says “covers” the bathroom issue.
“What I will tell you is in South Carolina, we are blessed because we don’t have to mandate respect or kindness or responsibility in this state,” Haley said. “And so I’ll tell you that law has worked perfectly. I don’t know of any example that we’ve had a problem on and South Carolina is going to continue to focus on ethics and on roads and on jobs and on all of those things because we think we’ve got that part covered.”