If you were intending to attend next year's NBA All-Star Game, turns out your travel plans have changed. The NBA has moved the All-Star Game out of North Carolina following the state's anti-LGBT bill, HB2, which was passed earlier this year. And it's a pretty awesome show of support for LGBTQ rights from the organization.
Since North Carolina passed HB2, a law that legalizes discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, in May, multiple companies and celebrities have spoken out against the law, in some cases by canceling events in North Carolina. (It's also attracted the attention of the Justice Department.) The NBA, which had originally planned to hold their 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, also stated publicly that they would likely move the game if the law was not overturned. Since then, the state has made no official effort to change the law, despite the public pressure, and the NBA has followed through with their promise.
In a statement, the league explained:
Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community — current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans. 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.
They also stressed that NBA values include "diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others." In other words, discrimination is not on the list.
Sadly, it seems that even this announcement won't be enough to provoke change in the North Carolina law, at least not if Gov. Pat McCrory's response is any indication. Said the governor:
The sports and entertainment elite, (North Carolina) Attorney General Roy Cooper and the liberal media have for months misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina simply because most people believe boys and girls should be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the opposite sex present.
Sadly, this does mean that the people of Charlotte will miss out on a major opportunity to host the All-Star Game — which is especially unfortunate given that HB2 was first introduced in reaction to an anti-discrimination law passed in Charlotte, which allowed trans people to use restrooms that match their gender identity. The state law not only overturned this local law and made any other such laws in Charlotte or other places in North Carolina impossible, but also specifically requires trans people to use restrooms that correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth.
Charlotte's mayor, Jennifer Roberts, expressed her disappointment with the decision, but said the city remains committed to being inclusive. "All-Star Weekend would have provided an excellent opportunity to further showcase our great and welcoming city," she said in a statement. "Charlotte has shown its commitment to equal rights and inclusion and will continue to promote those values."
As disappointing as this is for Charlotte, which definitely didn't do anything to deserve losing the All-Star opportunity, it is great to see the NBA standing behind its commitment to supporting LGBTQ rights. Throughout this process, the NBA has been very clear that they do not support HB2, and are unwilling to host the All-Star Game in a state that has passed anti-trans legislation and outlawed local efforts to protect LGBTQ rights. According to their statement, they tried to work with North Carolina to be more inclusive so that the game could stay in Charlotte, but were unsuccessful. So following through and moving the game shows how committed they are to inclusivity.
Openly gay retired NBA player Jason Collins summed it up nicely:
The NBA says that the hope to be able to host the All-Star Game in Charlotte in 2019, though presumably the law would have to change by then for that to be possible. In the meantime, the league is considering both New York and New Orleans as possible alternate locations for 2017.