NBA Pulls All-Star Game From Charlotte Over HB2

Jul 4, 2016

*Updated 7/21 at 6:26pm: As the NBA had been warning NC lawmakers for months, it's announced that the All-Star Game has been pulled from Charlotte because of the controversial House Bill 2.  

The NBA has released the following statement: "The NBA has decided to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte with the hope of rescheduling for 2019.

"Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change. We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.

"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.

"We are particularly mindful of the impact of this decision on our fans in North Carolina, who are among the most passionate in our league. It is also important to stress that the City of Charlotte and the Hornets organization have sought to provide an inclusive environment and that the Hornets will continue to ensure that all patrons -- including members of the LGBT community -- feel welcome while attending games and events in their arena.

"We look forward to re-starting plans for our All-Star festivities in Charlotte for 2019 provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter.

"The NBA will make an announcement on the new location of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in the coming weeks.

As was previously reported by WCQS, lawmakers left town after their short session without taking any major action on HB2, which several lawmakers warned would cost the state.

Original Post:

Lawmakers wrapped up their short session late Friday without taking any major action on House Bill 2.  They made only one tweak to the bill at the last minute, restoring the right of citizens to sue in state court over discrimination. The tweak was introduced at the request of Governor Pat McCrory late Friday night.  But it didn’t address the most controversial parts of HB2, limiting LGBT protections and requiring transgender people to use the restroom according to the sex listed on their birth certificate, provisions deemed discriminatory by critics.  Those parts of the bill have been defended vigorously by state Republican leaders and McCrory, but have drawn the ire of gay rights activists and others, and have cost the state millions in lost revenue because of boycotts from performance artists, cancelled business expansions and conferences, and loss of tourism.  Democratic Representative Chris Sgro of Greensboro, who also leads the state gay rights group Equality NC, brought that up during the House debate.

Rep. Chris Sgro: “While this is important, it doesn’t go nearly far enough.  I think that any notion that this is going to save the business climate in the state of North Carolina is bunk.  It certainly will not do that.  It doubles down on discrimination against the LGBT community.  So while I will support this, I am woefully embarrassed that this is the ultimate result of two and a half months of conversation about the most disastrous piece of legislation in a long time in this body.”

While lawmakers restored the right to sue in state court over discrimination, the statute of limitations was shortened from 3 years to one.  Republican Rep. Dan Bishop of Mecklenburg County, who introduced the HB2 tweak in the House, tried to explain why the 3 year statute of limitations was a problem.

Rep. Dan Bishop: “One problem that that creates is all of the employment discrimination claims are all subject to 180 day statute of limitations before a claim must be filed or an administrative charge must be filed.  Having a three year statute of limitation undermines the policy of those short statutes of limitations.  

Democratic Rep. Grier Martin of Wake County said everyone knew this part of the bill needed to be fixed.

Rep. Grier Martin: “No kidding, this was the lowest of the low hanging fruit.  It does nothing to fix the core discrimination inherent to that bill.  I’m voting for this, and I was initially excited to vote for this, because I thought well we’re at least going to fix the cause of action portion of it.  But we aren’t even fully fixing that.  We’re not going back to the status quo on this.  Workers and everyone else who have been discriminated against in North Carolina will still, after we pass this bill, be worse off than they were before the passage of House Bill 2.  I’m voting for it, but I ain’t too happy about it.”

Debate continued and Rep. Sgro again spoke up to ask Rep. Bishop a question.

Sgro: “You have acknowledged that it is worthwhile that we are having this conversation right now.  Why is it not worthwhile that we are not having a conversation about the entire bill, $500 million in economic harm.”

And at that point he was ruled out of order.   A bit later, the House took its vote.  The conference report was passed 82-18.

Over in the Senate, after the conference report was introduced by Republican Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, debate followed pretty much the same script. Senator Jeff Jackson, Democrat of Mecklenburg County had just a brief, blunt warning.

Sen. Jeff Jackson: “If this is the only step we take to repeal HB2 before we adjourn, it is going to cost our state hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The debate again was focused on the tighter statute of limitations.  And then it ended.  It passed 26-14.  After that, both the Senate and House adjourned their sessions, and that was it.  Now the state will await reaction from the business community, and if the NBA’s remarks on the legislation before it passed was any indication, it looks like it will be more likely a wait to see how much damage was done by lawmakers’ inactions on HB2.  

Full audio of the debate in each chamber is below.