NBA Takes a Stand for LGBTQ Community

The National Basketball Association is the first—and only—professional athletic organization to take action against a discriminatory law enacted in North Carolina. This past March, North Carolina held a special session to respond to an antidiscrimination law passed in Charlotte. Charlotte had offered antidiscrimination protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in February. The legislature passed House Bill 2 (HB2), which was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory. HB2 superseded all local ordinances concerning nondiscrimination and it formally excluded the LGBT community from protection.

The law also demanded all transgender people must use the bathroom associated with the gender identified on their birth certificate when in school and public bathrooms. Following this law, the NBA announced the All-Star Game would no longer be able to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 21, 2016. According to the NBA statement, “While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”

This move was applauded by the LGBTQ community as a positive and progressive step, particularly when the NFL and NCAA were not willing to make the same decisions when given the opportunity. Five Democratic Senators and notably a Republican Senator wrote a letter to the NBA Commissioner prior to the decision to pull the tournament. The letter asked the NBA to move the All-Star Game because the NBA should not “allow its premier annual event to be hosted in such a state.

Immediately Governor McCrory released a heated statement vilifying the NBA. McCrory said “[l]eft-wing special interest groups have no moral authority to try and intimidate the large majority of American parents who agree in common-sense bathroom and shower privacy for our children. American families should be on notice that the selective corporate elite are imposing their political will on communities in which they do business, thus bypassing the democratic and legal process.”

The NBA is only adding itself to the list of big name performances and contracts that North Carolina lost becomes of HB2. Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Pearl Jam, and Ringo Star all cancelled shows in North Carolina to protest the law. Deutshe Bank AG and Pay Pal cancelled expansion plans that would have provided at least 650 jobs. More than 100 companies, including Facebook, Google, and Apple, signed a petition to repeal the law, stating HB2 impairs the companies’ ability to do business in North Carolina.

Charlotte stands to lose at minimum $100 million in economic activity, through the games themselves and the increase in tourism because of the NBA pulling the tournament.

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