By Roger Horowitz
The Business History Conference (BHC), the largest professional organization of business historians in the United States, has cancelled plans to hold its 2018 annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. Its decision is in response to the adoption of the HB2 bill by the state government, and the recent rejection of a repeal of the measure by the North Carolina legislature. BHC will instead hold its 2018 annual meeting at the Baltimore Embassy Suites Inner Harbor.
The BHC’s action culminates a nine-month process of discussion with its members and its intended partner for the 2018 meeting, the Charlotte Marriott City Center Hotel. Consultation with the BHC’s membership and leadership showed strong sentiment against the planned North Carolina location, as many would not or could not attend a conference in the state so long as the HB2 measure remained in effect. The BHC trustees voted in early December 2016 to cancel the hotel contract with the Charlotte Marriott, but action was deferred until the state legislature rejected a repeal of the HB2 measure yesterday.
We want to commend Marriott for its constructive participation in these deliberations and make clear we have no grievances with its Charlotte hotel. Conversations with Marriott leadership secured modification of our contract to create more flexibility with its provisions regarding cancellation penalties. The hotel also provided unconditional assurances that it would not enforce the HB2 law; we note that Marriott’s opposition to the law is robust and a matter of record. Nonetheless, we simply cannot meet in a state that sanctions discrimination against LGBT individuals—which includes some of our own members.
Roger Horowitz is the secretary-treasurer of the Business History Conference. He can be reached at email@example.com for more information about the organization’s decision.