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NBA Stands up for LGBTQ Equality with All-Star Game Move, Citing Hostile Environment Created by HB2

by Stephen Peters July 21, 2016

Today, HRC and Equality NC, the statewide organization working to secure equal rights and justice for LGBTQ North Carolinians, hailed the NBA’s decision to stand up to North Carolina lawmakers who refused to repeal HB2 by pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC. Despite the NBA’s repeated warnings that it would have to consider moving the high-profile game out of the state if the anti-LGBTQ law was not repealed, the state’s General Assembly shamefully adjourned after 100 days of inaction earlier this month.

“Today the NBA and Commissioner Silver sent a clear message that they won’t stand for discrimination against LGBTQ employees, players or fans,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The NBA repeatedly warned state lawmakers that their hateful HB2 law created an inhospitable environment for their 2017 All-Star Game and other events. Nevertheless, Governor McCrory, Senator Berger and Speaker Moore doubled down on HB2 and refused to undo their discriminatory and costly error in judgment. Every day that HB2 remains on the books, people across North Carolina are at risk of real harm. We appreciate the leadership of the NBA in standing up for equality and call once again on lawmakers to repeal this vile HB2 law.”

"North Carolina General Assembly leadership and Governor McCrory repeatedly ignored the warning bells as businesses, conferences and entertainers left the state. From the beginning, NBA leadership has been clear that HB2 creates an untenable situation and jeopardizes the safety and comfort of their fans. The withdraw of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte came as the NBA took a principled stand against the discriminatory HB2 and the failure to repeal HB2 by Senate Leader Berger, Speaker Moore and Governor McCrory," said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. "When the City of Charlotte passed vital LGBT protections from discrimination last year, they made themselves a more competitive city for events like the All-Star Game. McCrory, Berger, and Moore have continued to put North Carolina in economic harm's way with the worst anti-LGBT bill in the nation, despite the best efforts of Charlotte city leaders to keep the game. We applaud the NBA for its commitment to all fans, and hope that North Carolina's leadership will heed this wakeup call and repeal HB2 before we suffer even more as a state."

The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned its short session earlier this month after refusing to repeal HB2, and it is not scheduled to reconvene until January -- leaving tens of thousands of people at risk for discrimination and harm over the months to come. Lawmakers made only one tweak to the deeply discriminatory law, restoring the right to sue in state court based on the limited number of characteristics that already were protected by state law. Despite widespread opposition to HB2, the General Assembly has been unwilling to even consider repealing the substance of the discriminatory law, including its ban on transgender people accessing restrooms consistent with their gender identity in government offices and schools, and its removal of municipalities’ ability to pass LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws and minimum wage ordinances.

The economic fallout from HB2 has also continued, as companies concerned with protecting their consumers and employees have moved conventions, trainings, operations, and productions out of state. Just yesterday, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called the bill “embarrassing” and North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said it “appalled” and “embarrassed” him.

In the nearly four months since Governor McCrory and state lawmakers rammed HB2 into law, the outcry has continued to grow:

  • More than 200 major CEOs and business leaders signed an open letter calling for full repeal of HB2 -- including many of North Carolina’s largest employers.
  • Major film studios and corporations, from PayPal to Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law’s threat to employees and consumers. Conventions have withdrawn from the state, taking substantial revenue with them. Since the law has been in effect, the Tar Heel State has already taken a hit of at least $329.9 million in lost business, and in taxpayer money used to defend the measure -- including funding Gov. Pat McCrory’s road trips to explain why he signed discrimination into law.
  • Artists including Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Dead & Company, and Cyndi Lauper have spoken out.
  • Under HB2, North Carolina cities also no longer qualify to host NCAA events because the organization announced it will no longer hold its events, including the Final Four, in cities that do not have LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination laws. And following the spirit of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order banning publicly funded, non-essential travel to North Carolina, Albany cancelled their Nov. 12 game against Duke.
  • In May, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit in federal court, stating that HB2’s state-mandated discrimination against transgender people, including government workers and students, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Violence Against Women Act of 2011.
  • Joined by 68 major companies, HRC filed an amicus brief in support of DOJ’s effort to block some of the most egregious and discriminatory components of HB2.

Stephen Peters
Stephen Peters


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