We decided on Asheville and North Carolina as the location for the first-ever Beer Marketing & Tourism Conference long before the hubbub over HB2, the “transgender bathrooms” bill, blew up.
That gave us several months to agonize over our decision – should we change the location and boycott the state or should we continue as planned?
We ultimately decided to continue as planned, holding the conference in Asheville, for two main reasons:
- Neither Asheville nor the local beer industry supports HB2. In fact, we believe Asheville and the beer industry are likely shining examples of fairness and non-discrimination.
- We were heartened by this April 13th article about 36 local brewers supporting a “Don’t Be Mean” beer where profits (almost $42,000 at this date!) will support two local equality organizations.
- One day later we read the Asheville City Council called for repeal of the state law and then produces a video (below) that welcomes everyone to the city.
- Even our host hotel, the Crowne Plaze Resort, is creating “All Gender” bathrooms in response to the law.
- Frankly, not announcing a conference that never existed before would not be coming to a state that is dealing with changes in our country’s culture isn’t going to have much impact anyway.
Frankly, we don’t want to disparage either side of the issue. People have deep feelings and we think listening is a lost art in our country. Plus, the issue has actually blown up further at the time of this writing, involving many more states than just North Carolina. Not having our little conference in North Carolina is more likely to punish the locals than anything.
But we do want to support our friends in Asheville, the entire beer industry, and all beer drinkers no matter their race, creed, religion, gender, gender identification, or just about anything else. As long as they like good beer.