Bruce Springsteen is The Boss — and the buck stops here.
Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, and the E Street Band canceled a Greensboro, NC concert scheduled for Sunday because of House Bill 2. Van Zandt called the anti-LGBT law “an evil virus.” Ticketholders will get refunds, but no music, according to a report from Reuters.
Entertainers and entertainment companies around the country have been joining tech companies and major employers speaking out against recently enacted and proposed legislation seen as discriminatory to protected classes. Called “bathroom bills,” the major issue and in some cases the only restriction in the laws limits multi-stall bathroom use to the gender listed on birth certificates.
Georgia’s Governor vetoed a discriminatory bill after major companies objected, but North Carolina and Mississippi have both passed anti-gay bills. South Carolina put forward a bill this past Wednesday restricting bathrooms to birth gender, and Tennessee may vote on a similar measure for public schools and colleges. Tennessee native pop singer Miley Cyrus and several major country musicians spoke out strongly against the legislation Friday.
Van Zandt and Springsteen considered other options such as making a statement from the stage, but rejected it, according to the Associated Press. “You consider those things, and then you realize that’s just playing into their hands. That’s not going to hurt enough — you need to hurt them economically,” said Van Zandt.
On his website Friday Springsteen wrote that HB2, “is an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.” Later on his Facebook page the Boss urged people to contact North Carolina legislators urging repeal of the law.
Further explaining their action, Van Zandt said, “This sort of thing is spreading like an evil virus around the country.” Considering discrimination anti-American, he stated, “Whether it’s women, whether it’s gay, transgender, there’s no difference,” he said. “It was very important to us to take a stand early in this before it starts to spread all over the place.”
The musicians join the growing chorus of voices speaking out against the bill, including an array of blue-chip tech companies. Signatories on a bill sent March 30 to the governor include Safra Catz, CEO of Oracle; Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb; Tim Cook, CEO of Apple; Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and Twitter; Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel; and dozens more.
“We are disappointed in your decision to sign this discriminatory legislation into law,” the letter reads. “The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business.”
States in the south enacting socially conservative bathroom bills are hearing from other entertainers, sports groups, and big business as well. Other states are restricting non-essential travel for employees to states with bathroom bills. Economic forces may eventually tip the scales away from discriminatory legislation, but regardless, Bruce and the band won’t be in North Carolina this weekend.