....about damn time, too!
(Think Progress) Ever since North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) enacted the anti-LGBT law HB2 in the spring, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has threatened to move the 2017 All-Star Game away from Charlotte.
On Thursday, after months of failed talks with the state to make satisfactory changes to the legislation, Silver backed up his words with action. The Vertical reports that the NBA has officially pulled the All-Star Game from the Queen City.
This is a significant statement from a league that has frequently preached diversity and inclusion, and a big blow to the city of Charlotte. The Charlotte Observer previously reported that the All-Star Game was projected to have a $100 million impact on the host city.
Many close to the NBA, including basketball legend Charles Barkley, have been vocal supporters of the NBA pulling the game from Charlotte. “It’s my job, with the position of power that I’m in and being able to be on television, I’m supposed to stand up for the people who can’t stand up for themselves,” Barkely said in April. “So, I think the NBA should move the All-Star game from Charlotte.”
Among other discriminatory measures, HB2 mandates that transgender individuals use restrooms that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates, not their gender identities.
Last month, the pressure from the NBA caused North Carolina Republicans to take another look at the controversial bill, but the changes they proposed did not fix HB2's most problematic features. The new draft bill gave transgender individuals the option to obtain an official certificate that would recognize their gender reassignment. However, that step still required transgender individuals to undergo gender reassignment surgery, an extremely expensive and invasive procedure.
The NBA was not impressed. “We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature,” the NBA and Charlotte Hornets said in a statement. “We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all."
The NBA has stressed its support for LGBT rights over the past few years, and in June became the first pro sports league (along with the WNBA) to have a float in the New York City pride parade. Silver had hoped to work with North Carolina to change the bill, especially considering the fact that there is an NBA franchise in the state.
But unfortunately, McCrory and other North Carolina legislators simply would not budge on this issue, instead insisting that the bill was "common sense."
This is far from the first time that HB2 has cost North Carolina dearly. In April, PayPal announced that it was cancelling plans to build an operations center in Charlotte because of the law, costing the state 400 jobs.
Currently, the NBA is focused on moving the All-Star Game to New Orleans' Smoothie King Center, though other cities are still trying to vie for the opportunity to host the high-profile weekend of events.