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The NBA pulled its All-Star game out of Charlotte over North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver holds a press conference in April
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver holds a press conference in April
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Earlier this year NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced his league would move its 2017 All-Star Game out of North Carolina if the state’s controversial anti-LGBTQ law didn’t change. The league confirmed Monday that Charlotte will no longer host the event next year.

"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," the league said.

The NBA is now among a large group of companies, organizations, and individuals, along with PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and even Bruce Springsteen, that have pulled business from the state over the law, which prohibits local nondiscrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity, and bans transgender people from using the bathrooms that align with their gender identities in schools and government buildings.

The NBA came to its decision after several individuals and groups lobbied it to move its major annual event.

In a monologue in April, Real Sports Bryant Gumbel said it's time for sport leagues to put their money where their mouths are, issuing a call to action:

[The law] uses the guise of bathroom concerns to deny certain rights to gay and transgender people, and effectively greenlights discrimination toward them.

What does that have to do with sports? Not a lot. Only that many of our top sports officials have so far turned a blind eye when taking action could mean a lot. I'm speaking of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who can move to take next year's NBA All-Star Game away from Charlotte. I'm speaking of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who can urge owners to change the site of their meetings in [North] Carolina next month. And I'm speaking of NCAA President Mark Emmert, who can seek to change the site of basketball tournament games scheduled for there next year.

Since it's never too late to do the right thing, here's hoping all those guys may yet lead by showing lawmakers in [North] Carolina and other states considering such measures that their bigotry has a price.

Here's hoping they come to understand what smarter people have often said: that prejudice tolerated is intolerance encouraged.

After national attention — and backlash — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced that adjustments had been made to the law through an executive order in April. Those tweaks, however, were of little consequence. The changes, according to McCrory’s office:

Maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools

Affirms the private sector's right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies

Affirms the private sector and local governments' right to establish non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees

Expands the state's employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity

Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination

There are some very modest advancements for LGBTQ rights here, particularly the move to protect LGBTQ state government employees from discrimination. But LGBTQ workers who don't work for the state government remain unprotected from workplace discrimination under state law.

But these changes don't really address the main concerns with North Carolina's law. The law still prohibits — and, in fact, McCrory affirmed that it prohibits — trans people from using the bathroom in schools and government buildings that matches their gender identity. And the law still blocks cities and counties from legally banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. These provisions remain untouched, regardless of any new protections for state government employees.

In fact, the executive order mostly seems to reiterate what the law already allows. Under the law, it's already legal for private employers to set their own bathroom and locker room policies, and local governments and private employers can already set up their own nondiscrimination policies for their own employees. There was zero doubt about this prior to the executive order.

So these are not the problems with the law. Again, the actual criticisms are about the anti-trans bathroom law for schools and government buildings and the ban on cities and counties passing nondiscrimination laws for LGBTQ people. If anything, the executive order doubles down on the former.

As the American Civil Liberties Union put it, the executive order "is a band-aid on a brain hemorrhage."

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