The Cook County Board of Commissioners, on April 13, passed bills boycotting North Carolina and Mississippi for non-vital city business.
The bills, sponsored by Commissioner Luis Arroyo, Jr., come in response to virulently anti-LGBT legislation that was recently passed in those states. As such, Cook County will not enter into new contracts with North Carolina- or Mississippi-headquartered businesses, nor will county employees attend conventions or conferences there.
Jacob Meister of The Civil Rights Agenda testified in support of the bills. "We in Illinois enjoy some of the most broad protections in the country for LGBT folks," Meister said, adding that "a growing chorus of voices" was seeking to boycott North Carolina and Mississippi for their oppressive legislation. "I ask this body to join in this collective voice that is growing across the country."
James Bennett, midwest regional director of Lambda Legal, added, "Pressure, like the resolution you're considering today, is beginning to work. …We are fortunate to live in a state where we protect all our citizens. As a Chicagoan, and a native Illinoisan, I ask that we extend our values of fairness and justice by supporting these resolutions."
Both resolutions passed with relatively little comment. All the commissioners who were present asked to be co-sponsors of the measures, except for Republican Commissioners Gregg Goslin and Tim Schneider, who were also the solitary "no" votes; the other two Republican Commissioners were not present. Commissioners John Fritchey and Joan Patricia Murphy, also not present, asked to become co-sponsors as well.
Schneider said that the bills would unfairly penalize North Carolina businesses and residents who may not have supported the legislation. Goslin said that a boycott would be a "bad idea."
The bills are applicable "to the extent practicable, and in instances where there is no significant additional cost to the County nor conflict with law."