Gay CEO moves his $830M company from South Carolina to California over proposed bathroom bill


America’s southern states are continuing to learn that their negative attitudes toward queer people will come with financial consequences.

The latest repercussion: Uphold, a financial services company that claims to handle more than $800 million in transactions annually, has declared it will move its headquarters from Charleston, S.C., to California over a proposed bill that would legalize discrimination against the LGBT community.

In a note on the company’s site, CEO Anthony Watson wrote the following:

As the openly gay, British CEO of an American company, 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.
Some of you may be aware that Uphold’s U.S. headquarters is based in Charleston, South Carolina. 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. As such, we feel compelled to take action to oppose the discrimination being proposed in South Carolina and protect our LGBT employees.
Today, Uphold has taken the difficult decision to move its U.S. corporate Headquarters from Charleston, South Carolina to Los Angeles, California.
We will stand firm in our commitment to fairness, equality and inclusion and our strong conviction that we can make a difference by living our core values. It’s the right thing to do for our members, employees, partners and the communities in which we live and work.

Bright’s bill would bar local governments from enacting laws allowing people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender they identify with, and force school boards to assign bathrooms according to biological gender. It was introduced last Wednesday.

Reps for Bright and Gov. Nikki Haley did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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