Last month, the Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance to expand transgender rights, including allowing individuals to use the bathroom of their choice. But the state responded swiftly — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law that not only strikes down the city’s bathroom provision, but also prevents any municipalities from passing new legislation to expand LGBTQ rights.
Much like the NFL’s objection to Georgia’s similar proposal earlier in March, the NBA immediately denounced North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT measure and said that the motion could threaten next year’s All Star Game, which is scheduled to be held at Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the Charlotte Hornets.
Boycotting locations with these laws may be beneficial for professional sports leagues to bolster their reputations, even if the leagues cannot actually influence policy. But a boycott would mean that local business and employees will pay the price for a decision made by the government. Consequently, to serve the interests of all North Carolinians, Gov. McCrory should immediately seek to reverse the detrimental law.
A similar law in Indiana that was passed last year — The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allowing individuals and companies to cite a hindrance on exercising their religion as a defense in a legal case — cost Indianapolis a potential $60 million in revenue from conventions alone when companies elected to take their business elsewhere in response to the law. Debate continues in the Indiana General Assembly — as much about economics as LGBTQ rights.
“It’s baffling how delusional [Gov.] Mike Pence is on his claim that there’s no direct correlation between LGBT rights and the Hoosier economy,” Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson said.
When another anti-LGBTQ bill passed the Georgia General Assembly last month, the NFL immediately threatened not to hold a Super Bowl in Atlanta, which is the traditional reward for the completion of a new stadium. The Georgia Dome’s replacement — the Mercedez-Benz Stadium — is scheduled to open next year.
The NFL’s threat was not hollow — Super Bowl XXVII (1993) was moved from Arizona because the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — and they were certainly not alone in their opposition to the anti-LGBT proposal.
“Conservatives, legal experts, people of faith, businesses and more than 75,000 Georgians expressed their strong opposition to legislation which threatens our state’s economy and reputation, and which very clearly singles out LGBT people and others for harm,” Georgia Equality Group Director Jeff Graham said. “It’s shameful that lawmakers in the House ignored this feedback and, rather than taking steps to mitigate any potential fallout, actually made a bad bill worse.”
While Georgian citizens’ objections to the proposal fell on deaf ears in the assembly (who passed the legislation), their Republican Gov. Nathan Deal listened to the community’s concerns and vetoed the bill. In a speech announcing his decision, Gov. Deal explained that he was not solely motivated by economic concerns.
“This is about the character of our State and the character of its people,” he said. “Georgia is a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people.”
Unfortunately, North Carolina Gov. McCrory did not respond remotely in the same vain to Gov. Deal. His zealous refusal to acknowledge criticisms from the NBA, local businesses and the community does not bode well for the state’s future. He should learn not only from the failures of Indiana’s law, but also from his neighboring governor’s wisdom. Atlanta — touting itself as LGBT-friendly — is now pursuing the 2017 NBA All Star Game, hoping to pull the event right out from under Gov. McCrory.