The NBA has voiced its concern regarding a new law passed in North Carolina aimed to discriminate against transgender citizens of the state. If changes are not made, it could result in the Charlotte Hornets losing the 2017 All-Star Game.
The North Carolina general assembly made big news Wednesday night when it called a special session to pass a new state-wide law that forces all people to use the bathroom assigned to their biological sex. The bill, quickly signed into law by Republican governor Pat McCrory, allows rampant anti-LGBT discrimination by businesses and overturns a municipal bill that brings strong anti-discrimination legislation, including the right to choose the bathroom of one's preferred gender, to Charlotte.
It is difficult to read the league's statement as anything but a veiled threat:
"The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events. We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”
The statement is attributed to the NBA as an entity, not commissioner Adam Silver. It follows several columns urging the league to move next season's All-Star Game, although it's fair to assume that they would have issued a similar statement regardless of the media reaction. The NBA has been at the forefront of LGBT acceptance in sports, particularly after Jason Collins became the first active player in the United States' four major sports league to come out as gay in 2013.
Losing the All-Star Game would be a blow to the Charlotte Hornets, a franchise looking to speed up its rebranding efforts following a relatively fallow period as the Charlotte Bobcats. Next February's All-Star Weekend has been seen as an opportunity to broadcast the new-look Hornets to the world. Owner Michael Jordan, still the most popular basketball player on Earth, has figured to be a steady presence at the event.
The league joins several other corporations with North Carolina ties, including American Airlines and IBM, in expressing concerns over the law. The Hornets and many businesses in Charlotte may see themselves as unwitting victims of the state legislature's decision, but these are the unfortunate byproducts of discrimination. Arguments that freedom of bathroom choice increase instances of abuse have been debunked many times. For that matter, transgender adults forced to use biological bathrooms are often abused themselves, to say nothing of the shame they feel. (Unfortunately, even transgender people who use the preferred bathroom encounter regular discrimination.)
This is a bad law for many reasons. Here's hoping that the NBA's statement helps to remove it.
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