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Financial Company Moving To L.A. From Charleston Over Transgender Bathroom Bill

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A financial services company is picking up and moving from Charleston to Los Angeles over South Carolina's proposed transgender bathroom bill. Anthony Watson is the CEO of Uphold, a cloud-based financial services company founded in 2013. Watson is also, in his own words, an "openly gay, British CEO" who plans on moving the company from Charleston to Los Angeles in response to a proposed South Carolina bill that would forbid transgender men and women from using the restroom that aligns with their gender identity, The State reports.

Watson posted a statement to his company's website:

As the openly gay, British CEO of an American company, I have watched in shock and dismay as legislation has been abruptly proposed or enacted in several states across the union seeking to invalidate the basic protections and rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) U.S. citizens. Some of you may be aware that Uphold’s U.S. headquarters is based in Charleston, South Carolina. In recent days, we have been made aware that South Carolina Sen. Lee Bright has introduced a bill largely mirroring North Carolina's controversial law that blocks local governments from passing LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinances. As such, we feel compelled to take action to oppose the discrimination being proposed in South Carolina and protect our LGBT employees.

Today, Uphold has taken the difficult decision to move its U.S. corporate Headquarters from Charleston, South Carolina to Los Angeles, California.

We will stand firm in our commitment to fairness, equality and inclusion and our strong conviction that we can make a difference by living our core values. It’s the right thing to do for our members, employees, partners and the communities in which we live and work.

Some of the other legislature Watson is referring to, in addition to the South Carolina bill, could be North Carolina's HB2, which also takes away transgender people's ability to choose their restroom, or a proposed bill in Georgia that would have allowed its residents to deny services to anyone who was in violation of "sincerely held religious beliefs." Bruce Springsteen cancelled his show in Greensboro, North Carolina over the legislation, while
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PayPal cancelled a planned expansion in the state. Meanwhile, Disney and Marvel threatened to stop shooting their blockbusters in Hollywood-friendly Georgia if Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill into law. Deal vetoed the bill. The South Carolina measure was introduced by Sen. Lee Bright, who said, "I've about had enough of this. I mean, years ago we kept talking about tolerance, tolerance, and tolerance, and now they want men who claim to be women to be able to go into bathrooms with children. And you got corporations who say this is okay." His proposal, which is modeled after North Carolina's law, calls for visitors to multi-stall public restrooms, including bathrooms and locker rooms in schools, to use the restroom of their "biological sex."

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called the bill unnecessary and said it "perpetuates hateful rhetoric and myths about trans people," and that "nothing's going to happen with this bill this year." Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott also stated that such a bill is "unnecessary and unenforceable," according to NBC 10. Lott wrote in a letter to legislators that in his 41 years on the force, “I have never heard of a transgender person attacking or otherwise bothering someone in a restroom. This is a non-issue.”