Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

North Carolina Lifts Transgender Bathroom Ban, Gets NBA All-Star Game Back

Last year, North Carolina passed HB2, a law that prohibited cities within the state from passing anti-LGBT discrimination laws that exceed state protections and mandated that transgender people use public restrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificates. Among other corporations, artists, and sports leagues that boycotted the state in response, the NBA pulled its 2017 all-star game from Charlotte, the city whose LGBT protection law had spurred HB2 in the first place.

And now, with the bathroom provisions of HB2 rescinded in March, the NBA is returning to North Carolina with the 2019 all-star game. Here's a look and the change in the law, and the change in the league's attitude.

Battling the Boycott

The Tar Heel State's bathroom bill was a public relations and economic nightmare. Between canceled corporate relocations, conventions, projects, concerts, and sporting events like the all-star game, it's estimated HB2 will cost North Carolina almost $4 billion. And Republican then-Governor Pat McCrory, a staunch supporter of HB2, was replacement by Democrat Roy Cooper in the 2016 election.

While early attempts to repeal HB2 failed, lawmakers finally reached a compromise in March, replacing HB2 with a new law that omitted the bathroom ban but retained prohibitions on cities passing their own anti-LGBT discrimination protections until 2020. That was enough to get the all-star game back in Charlotte, though not enough for civil rights activists who decried the moratorium on city anti-discrimination statutes.

Bathrooms and Basketball

"I'm glad the NBA recognizes the progress we've made and will continue to be a partner as we push for statewide LGBT protections," Governor Cooper said in a statement. And NBA Commissioner Adam Silver echoed that sentiment: "While we understand the concerns of those who say the repeal of H.B. 2 did not go far enough, we believe the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law."

Those concerns were voiced by ACLU attorney Chase Strangio:

While pro basketball's biggest weekend might be back in North Carolina, it remains to be seen whether other corporations and consumers will follow suit.

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