It’s been about six months since North Carolina Republicans quickly approved a measure known as HB 2, the state’s notorious anti-LGBT law, which has cost the state dearly. A variety of businesses and organizations balked – PayPal, for example, canceled its decision to open an office in the state, and Deutsche Bank scrapped plans to add hundreds of new jobs in North Carolina – but Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and his GOP allies refused to repeal the discriminatory policy.
But given the state’s love of college basketball, the latest element of the backlash will probably hurt the most.
[NCAA officials] announced on Monday evening that they will relocate all of their championship events scheduled to take place in North Carolina due to the controversial HB2 law, which eliminates protections for the LGBT community and, inside government buildings, makes it unlawful for transgendered people to use a bathroom that differs from the gender listed on their birth certificate.There were seven events scheduled to take place in North Carolina during the 2016-17 school year, including the NCAA tournament; the 1st- and 2nd-round games that were supposed to be played in Greensboro, N.C., will be relocated to a site that is still to be determined.
WRAL in Raleigh reported that soon after the NCAA’s announcement, North Carolina Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D) called for a special session to vote on repealing House Bill 2.
“The cost of holding a special session is a drop in the bucket compared to the continued legal costs, economic costs and damage to our state’s reputation,” Blue said. “Regardless of what side of the aisle we are on, it’s time to take action that is in the best interest of the state.”
At least at this point, there’s no reason to believe state Republican policymakers are prepared to take any action at all. On the contrary, McCrory, facing a tough re-election fight this year, keeps running campaign ads defending his controversial anti-LGBT law.
And if last night’s statement from the North Carolina Republican Party is any indication, the NCAA’s decision seems likely to cause conservatives to dig in their heels.
Kami Mueller, the state GOP’s spokesperson, responded to the NCAA with this: “This is so absurd it’s almost comical. I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA’s logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms.
“This decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation. If you are unwilling to have women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, how do you have a women’s team? I wish the NCAA were this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor. Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking – and instead focus their energies on making sure our nation’s collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field.”
Does any of this make sense? No, but does help capture the state of the debate in North Carolina.