nc_trans_protest_160323-b5ad7c21Nike, a long-time supporter of the LGBT sports community has now joined a group of 68 major companies in the U.S. in an effort to block North Carolina’s openly transphobic House Bill 2 (HB2), officially known as the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act. While the U.S. Department of Justice and the state have filed dueling lawsuits over HB2 violating civil rights, this group of companies has filed a friend of the court brief at the federal court in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Jesse Reed from Sportsnaut shared the following portion of the brief: “H.B. 2 and the naked, invidious discrimination it condones is already damaging [companies’] ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce and is imposing a substantial disincentive to investment and commerce in the state, directly impacting their bottom line,” the brief reads, per Reuters.

Often referred to as the transgender bathroom law or potty bill, HB2 requires transgender people to use bathrooms in public accommodations based on the gender listed on their birth certificates. But it also excludes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons from legal nondiscrimination protections and even prohibits cities and counties within the state from overriding HB2 by passing broader laws that would offer them these protections.

The bill’s passing on March 23 immediately raised concerns by many in the sports and business communities, from organizations, even from entertainers doing business in North Carolina. This also included NBA commissioner Adam Silver who announced the NBA All-Star Game currently set to take place in Charlotte and hosted by the Charlotte Hornets in February 2017 might be relocated if HB2 wasn’t removed, saying he was concerned with “protection for the LGBT community in terms of economic rights and personal rights.”

Over the ensuing time, Silver has been careful not to do anything he says might suggest that the league is giving the city and state an ultimatum, saying ““We intentionally didn’t want to draw lines in the sand.” On the surface, at least, this “suggestion” seems to have carried the most weight with North Carolina legislators, causing Silver to say he thinks it will all be sorted out by the end of summer.

However, at the mid-summer mark, that doesn’t seem to be going well. The state’s general assembly finished business last week with only a tiny tweek to the bill that didn’t go over well. Following the change, the league, along with the Charlotte Hornets released the following statement expressing their disappointment:

“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 league said in statement issued this past week.

“We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all,” the NBA’s statement continued. “We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward. There has been no new decision made regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.”

North Carolina is already feeling the pinch in its pocketbook. On March 23 the state’s General Assembly spent $42,000 to go into special session to rush through this law, according to Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. And the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that Raleigh could lose up to $40 million in convention business. Its statistics reveal that 16 trade associations or corporate groups have cancelled events due to HB2 and that Raleigh has now been eliminated as the site for 13 other conventions.

These numbers don’t include money the state could have garnered from all the top-flight entertainers who have cancelled concerts and appearances nor does it take into account the state’s ability to host big NCAA tournaments. Since HB2 was signed into law, the association passed a measure requiring host sites to be able to demonstrate that they are “free from discrimination.”

Far from acknowledging the plight of transgender individuals, Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham believes the bathroom access portion of the bill must stay to protect public safety, saying that “Protecting the safety and privacy of North Carolina families by keeping grown men out of bathrooms, shower facilities and changing rooms with women and young girls has always been our primary objective.”

In a mind-boggling move, instead of funding any type of protection from the Zika virus making its way up the coast from Florida, the legislature approved transferring $500,000 from a disaster relief fund to the office of Republican governor Pat McCrory to defend HB2 in court. It brings to mind a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

By Connie Wardman



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