Artists Protest Bill By Dropping Shows

A number of artists have canceled performances in North Carolina and Mississippi in protest of new legislation they say is discriminatory against the states’ LGBT community.

Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file
In the press room at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.

Tracy Morgan and Bryan Adams are two of the biggest names who have canceled shows in Mississippi over its Religious Accommodations Act, while Cirque du Soleil, Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Pearl Jam, and Boston have all axed upcoming dates in North Carolina in light of the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (or HB2).

Both bills allow business owners legal grounds to deny service to LGBT patrons based on their religious beliefs. HB2 is also known as “the bathroom bill” because of its requirement for use of public restrooms based on birth-gender, and limits lawsuits that can be filed on the basis of discrimination. The legislation has drawn heavy fire from artists and other forms of management including the organizers of N.C.’s Moogfest and Live Nation President/CEO Michael Rapino.

“What is surprising is that more of the leaders in the music business have not come forward to support the groundswell of artists and managers who have opposed this discriminatory law,” Rapino said in an interview with The Real.

Other artists such as Gregg Allman and Father John Misty have gone ahead with their shows but used the stage to speak out against the legislation.

Rep. Paul Stam of North Carolina recently said in an interview with The News & Observer “If [the artists are] not going to go here, there are 31 other states and 10,000 other cities that have the same type of policies we just passed.”

An investigation into that statement by Politifact found it to be half-true: while some elements of the controversial bills are unique to North Carolina and Mississippi, he is correct in his assertion that “about 10,000 cities do not give discrimination protections to gay or lesbian people.”