The NBA and the Charlotte Hornets announced Thursday night that they will not support the proposed fix by North Carolina lawmakers to House Bill 2, the controversial law that forces transgender people to use public restrooms (in government buildings) that do not correspond with their gender identity.
“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature,” the organizations stated in a press release. “We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all. We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward.”
The legislation, forced through during an emergency session of the state’s Congress, was introduced, debated, and passed in a single day. Signed into law March 23, HB 2 has been widely criticized — with over 160 businesses threatening to boycott the state if the bill is not repealed.
North Carolina Republicans had hoped that a compromise bill would quell the backlash. The version of the bill obtained by Charlotte TV station WBTV allows transgender residents to use the public restroom that most closely corresponds with their gender identity as long as they are able to “prove” their gender. Trans people can do so, according to the bill, by furnishing a “certificate of sex reassignment,” one notarized by the physician who performed the surgery. Many transgender people, however, do not have or desire surgery.
In addition, the draft of the bill sent to legislators Wednesday clarified the penalties for using the opposite-sex facilities. “Language in the latest draft of the bill would make it a Class 2 misdemeanor — one level higher than the normal penalty for trespassing — to trespass in a multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility,” reports WBTV.
It also calls for the creation of a blue-ribbon panel to study anti-LGBT discrimination in the state but does not strike down the provision of HB 2 that keeps cities and counties from adopting their own nondiscrimination ordinances. Such policies, which had earlier been in place in North Carolina cities like Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh, and Durham, would allow trans people equal access in all public accommodations, including public restrooms.
Local and national LGBT rights groups have criticized the proposed legislation, which they claim does little to answer their previous concerns about HB 2.
“This is nothing more than 'HB 2.0,’” said Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign, in a statement, adding: “This despicable bill would continue insidious policies targeting LGBTQ people for discrimination and do nothing to fix the mess HB2 created. It's past time for North Carolina lawmakers to listen to the overwhelming chorus of voices from across North Carolina and around the country calling for full repeal of this hateful law.”
Rep. Chris Sgro, the executive director of Equality North Carolina, claimed that the issue is just another “backroom deal,” one drafted without working with the LGBT community. “Once more leadership has not consulted with us or discussed a piece of legislation with us that will have deep impacts for our community,” he told the The Charlotte Observer. “It’s just another bad bill.”
The result may be costly for North Carolina. The NBA All-Star Game and releated events, scheduled to be held in Charlotte February 17-19, are expected to bring in between $60 million and $100 million for the state, and if state Republicans cannot agree with the league on a fix to HB 2, NBA officials suggested that they will consider moving the event. As of now, NBA president Adam Silver, has stressed that no decisions have been made.