West Virginia’s choice, jobs or discrimination

A column by Rob Byers, co-editor of the Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Delegate Michel Moffatt got red in the face, his voice rose and he stabbed the air with his pen.

A minute before, he had been calmly explaining to our group of Gazette-Mail editors why he thought the failed “religious freedom” bill that dominated so much of the Legislature’s time last session was a good bill and one he wouldn’t mind bringing up again.

But then I mentioned PayPal and its decision to back out of North Carolina because of that state’s version of the discriminatory law, and the Putnam County Republican was off to the races.

Moffatt said he would not welcome PayPal and its 400 jobs into West Virginia, calling the company “hypocritical” because “they’re operating in 25 countries that persecute gays, that hang them in the streets. Yet they’re pulling out of North Carolina? Shame on them.”

Next, he started in on Bruce Springsteen, who decided to cancel his concert in North Carolina because of the law. Moffatt said Springsteen was the one who was doing the discriminating, by refusing to play for all those hard-working Tar Heels.

For the record, criticizing The Boss in my presence is never going to help win me over in an argument. But neither is pushing unnecessary legislation that’s really just a ham-fisted attempt at legitimizing homophobia…

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