If certain states are anti-gay, why do any gay adults live in them?

“Gay-rights groups say Amazon should avoid these 9 cities for second headquarters” (USA Today):

Gay-rights advocates ran a “No Gay? No Way!” campaign Thursday to pressure Amazon to avoid building its second headquarters in a state that does not protect its residents from discrimination for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Think about the implications for an existing employee who might be asked to transfer there. You move to one of these states and you’re looking for an apartment and you could be denied a lease because you’re gay,” said Gaughan.

One activist said the campaign is not meant to harm the gay people who live in the nine cities.

The last part seems interesting. If certain states are populated by citizens (“haters”) so anti-gay that an employer shouldn’t locate there, why do any gay adults live in those states? If we assume that gay adults are intelligent and possess agency, given that there are no restrictions on emigrating from a purportedly anti-gay state to a purportedly pro-gay state, why wouldn’t all of the gay adults have moved away some time ago? If things are as different from state to state as the folks quoted in the article contend, why wouldn’t these differences result in a more or less complete population exchange?

[Alternatively, if we do believe that there are gay people living in anti-gay states, that they are somehow stuck living there despite the pervasive prejudice, and that Amazon is LGBTQ-friendly, wouldn’t it make more sense to advocate for Amazon to set up a new facility in an anti-gay state? That gives the gay people who live there an opportunity to find a safe space for at least 40 (or 80?) hours per week.]

17 thoughts on “If certain states are anti-gay, why do any gay adults live in them?

  1. Speaking as a gun owner who lived in California for most of his life: I expect it’s because that’s where they grew up, they see it as their home, and they’re reluctant to be driven out.

  2. This question seems very obtuse. Why doesn’t everybody on your Facebook feed who like to point out how much better life is in European social democracies just move there? Because it’s a pain in the ass, and because there are things they like about the country where they grew up. For that matter, why don’t you leave Boston for a more conservative-friendly place like, say, Salt Lake City? (or Singapore!)

    If you’re dealing with intractable problems about the place where you’re living like the weather or geography, I can see the wisdom of saying “deal with it or leave”, but having lots of people in your hometown be openly hostile to who you are isn’t an intractable problem, if you think you can exert enough social and economic pressure to change their minds (or at least get them to keep their thoughts to themselves).

  3. There should be population exchange on margin — young people preferring to start their independent lives in San Francisco rather than Boston. Over time the equilibrium should shift leaving in hostile cities, such as NY and Boston only people unable to leave for socioeconomic reasons.
    This theory can be instantly falsified by counting the flags around BU and Fenway areas as well as NYU and East Village.
    Then once can infer possibilities of marginal exchange and/or the accuracy of the list of hostile cities.

  4. Regarding your last paragraph, you seem to have missed this in the article:

    In 2016, PayPal canceled plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte after the state passed a law that prevented cities from creating non-discrimination policies to protect transgender people. The center had been expected to employ 400 people. The state eventually repealed the law, but PayPal stayed away.

    If Amazon were to announce that is was steering clear of some states, it could have an effect of the laws of those states. Also, the word haters was not present in that USA Today article.

  5. Vince: But wouldn’t it have been better for PayPal to open up a gay-friendly office in Charlotte? Then 400 people could have been in a safe environment for at least 40 hours/week.

  6. The number would have to be less than 400, unless they only hired LGBT people. If their decisions prodded the legislature to repeal a law, that probably helped more than 400 people.

  7. Alex: Why didn’t my Trump-hating Facebook friends make good on their promises to emigrate to Canada or Europe in the event that the Trumpenfuhrer won? I think it is because the Canadians and Europeans won’t take them! Not everyone is smart enough to realize the guaranteed benefits of unlimited immigration. The situation is different with the U.S. states, though. If Pennsylvania is full of hatred, it is possible to move to hate-free Maryland in a weekend. A lot of Americans live within a short drive of one or more state lines.

    [Make sure to check the family law implications before moving, though! Living free of generalized hatred is nice, but perhaps not if the new state gives your spouse a huge financial incentive to sue. See http://www.realworlddivorce.com/ ]

  8. In the article, the gay rights group don’t appear to claim that there is employment discrimination in the eight states referenced. The article also says that “Like many tech companies, Amazon has long been a supporter of gay rights and anti-discrimination legislation.” So if “tech companies” don’t discriminate, the opportunity to hire LGBT workers with the necessary skills at low salaries won’t be an option.

    Of course, the other fact to keep in mind that there may be such intense hatred of certain groups on the part of some employers that they may not care about the opportunity to pay workers less.

    Finally, unlike racial minorities, LGBT people have the option of staying in the closet. So antidiscrimination laws free them from having to do that.

  9. It’s just noise anyway. Amazon knows where they are going unless some city just bribes them outright – and its doubtful any city could make them whole on the transaction if the project is as big as advertised.

  10. Vancouver is a slam dunk. Amazon becomes two companies. One US and one foreign. Vancouver version gets all the foreign stuff and no us taxes. The competition is just to get Canada to give Amazon a big tax break. Plus Vancouver is close to Seattle so Bezos can fly over there in a hour to check progress. Wait and see. Oh and the Vancouver setup may include a 2-3 other country setups as well ,to further allow foreign sales and keep taxes low.

  11. Phil,
    Seriously, will you seek candidacy for president of the USA if Trump decides not to run in 2020? I have yet to meet or know of a more qualified, universally level-headed person than you.
    I may get a head start and have my printer friend make up the first batch of “Phil in ‘20” bumper stickers.

  12. Mark: Thanks, but all of my political positions are extremely unpopular! Just imagine if I announced to Americans that, if elected, the Great Father in Washington wouldn’t handle all of their problems anymore, that wages and prices would be set via a market (and would therefore be “unfair”), etc.

    Bill: Why Vancouver? The U.S., for the first time in memory (or ever?), has lower corporate tax rates than Canada. Is the idea that, since the U.S. is now taxing foreign stashes of cash (with a “tax cut”!), a Canadian Amazon can deal with profitable foreign subsidiaries at a lower tax cost?

  13. Vince: If an employer is non-discriminatory, but profit-minded, why would the workforce end up being all-female or all-gay? Let’s suppose that there is a position for which the market-clearing wage for a qualified man is $100,000 per year. Hillary would not lie or mislead the American public. Therefore it will be possible to find an equally qualified woman for this job at $77,000. The company that wishes to maximize profits will offer $77,000 for this position and therefore only women will accept the job. All of the qualified men will be able to find work at $100,000 per year from employers that actually DO discriminate (by paying men more). So even if the company would be happy to have a man at the $77,000/year wage, no man will accept the job.

  14. You’re going off on a bit of a tangent there with comment number 14. That must mean I’ve answered all of your questions about the states that the gay groups are concerned about.

    To address your new question. I don’t think that Hillary ever made the assertion that you attribute to her. It’s possible that the gap can be partially explained the same way as the anti-gay employment discrimination. Employers may not value women as much, so they pay women less.

  15. Vince @9:
    Despite extraordinary levels of hatred for certain kinds of white males, Google continues to hire them. I’m just not sold on the extreme hatred argument as to why people wouldn’t market-optimize. After all, in food service, you see more women employed as waitstaff when business is slower because women will in fact take less money and I do not think anyone could reasonably say food service is an environment that is woman-friendly.

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