It’s official: North Carolina’s leaders have lost the once-promised 2017 NBA All-Star Game by refusing to change or repeal the state’s anti-LGBTQ law.
“New Orleans is a world-class destination for sports and entertainment and we are very appreciative that the city is once again hosting our All-Star festivities,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We are grateful to Tom and Gayle Benson and the Pelicans organization and to Governor John Bel Edwards, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation for inviting us back for what promises to be another exciting and memorable celebration of the game.”
Louisiana is among the majority of states that doesn’t have a law explicitly shielding LGBTQ people from discrimination. But as Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards argued in lobbying for the All-Star Game, the state hasn’t taken up the widespread legislative efforts to pass the anti-LGBTQ laws that other Southern states, like North Carolina, have.
North Carolina’s law overturned and bans local laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations, and bans trans people from using the bathroom for their gender identity in schools and government buildings.
LGBTQ organizations and advocates have called on the NBA and other businesses to pull out of North Carolina
The NBA is just one of the many individuals and organizations who have pulled their business out of the state in response to North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law. Previously, PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and even Bruce Springsteen announced similar moves.
LGBTQ organizations say business resistance to discriminatory laws is crucial to the future of the movement.
“Whether you're a Democratic governor or a Republican governor, virtually without exception, goal No. 1 is to keep jobs in your state and to attract new jobs that you don't currently have. That is one thing that is shared between conservative governors, liberal governors, moderate governors,” Chad Griffin, president of HRC, an LGBTQ advocacy group, previously told me. “So the increase in business [engagement and lobbying against these laws] has been key to our success, and I think it will be key to our success as we engage in these battles in the future.”
HRC secured signatures from more than 160 business leaders in a letter calling on North Carolina to repeal its law.
The NBA’s decision also comes after pressure from some sports pundits, including Real Sports host Bryant Gumbel, who argued in April:
[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.
To learn more about North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law, read Vox’s explainer.