Good evening, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) fans. Hope you are doing well.
We don’t write about political issues here at All Sports Discussion very often (at all, in fact). This is a very apolitical site – we write about ACC sports – that’s our mission here (but time to time, I go back to my days of writing about public policy – I was graduate public affairs student at Virginia Tech).
By now, you’ve all heard of HB 2. If you haven’t, here’s a primer on the subject from The Charlotte Observer:
In a one-day specially convened session on March 23, 2016 North Carolina’s legislature passed a sweeping law that reverses a Charlotte ordinance that had extended some rights to people who are gay or transgender.
The law passed by the General Assembly and signed that same night by Gov. Pat McCrory goes further than a narrow elimination of Charlotte’s ordinance, which had generated the most controversy by a change that protected transgender people who use public restrooms based on their gender identity. The new law also nullified local ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community.
The state has long had laws regulating workplace discrimination, use of public accommodations, minimum wage standards and other business issues. The new law – known as HB2, the Charlotte bathroom bill or, more officially, as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – makes it illegal for cities to expand upon those state laws, as more than a dozen cities had done, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham.
North Carolina’s new law sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination: race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate. Sexual orientation – people who are gay – was never explicitly protected under state law and is not now, despite recent court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage.
Transgender people who have not taken surgical and legal steps to change the gender noted on their birth certificates have no legal right under state law to use public restrooms of the gender with which they identify. Cities and counties no longer can establish a different standard. Critics of the Charlotte ordinance cite privacy concerns and say it was “social engineering” to allow people born as biological males to enter women’s restrooms.
NCAA reaffirms North Carolina championship stance. pic.twitter.com/2XqPodlQUP
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 23, 2017
North Carolina could lose hundreds of millions more because the NCAA is avoiding the state, usually a favored host. The group is set to announce sites for various championships through 2022, and North Carolina won’t be among them as long as the law is on the books. The NAACP also has initiated a national economic boycott.
THE FIX: Now that March Madness is actually here, is there a urgency in the state to repeal the bathroom bill so it doesn’t miss out on another tournament?
MCGRADY: That’s really hard to judge. The NCAA is meeting just south of here — some of the tournament is in Greenville, S.C. — that’s where UNC and Duke are both playing.
Some of my colleagues don’t believe damages are occurring. If you live in a small, rural county in some part of North Carolina, you probably don’t see them. If, on the other hand, you’re in Greensboro this weekend you’re going: “This thing is real. We always have a basketball tournament here.”
How do you feel watching the tournament be played across state lines?
I think the economy boycott is outrageous and unfair, but is it a fact of life that we have to deal with? Yes. I mean, it is damaging, and whether we agree with the action taken or not, I think legislators are going to have to try to address it.
And it’s now or never to address it, right?
Well, we always try to do things before it’s too late. Fixing the issue after the fact is still incurring the damages and doesn’t make a lot of sense. But we have basically another week, maybe, if we’re going to take action. The next round of NCAA tournaments will be announced in early April, and obviously that doesn’t all get done in one day, and so if we’re going to take action, we need to take it very soon.
Since we last talked, your repeal effort has kind of languished.
At this point we’re hung up on something I view is frankly a rather silly thing to get hung up on, given we have agreed on the harder issue here. So, we’ll see. Give it another weekend. Certainly after another week or so, I’m going to go off and spend my time doing other things.
What is the hang up?
There is just no way to get the votes for a straight repeal. The only bipartisan bill that would address that problem is the bill I filed, HB 186. Obviously you need a repeal, but you also need a preemption so that local governments don’t wade back into the bathroom issue. Meaning we don’t need to repeal and then have another city do exactly what Charlotte did, otherwise we’re right back into that issue.
We also have local governments that have adopted nondiscrimination ordinances, and that surprisingly has been the main hang up. My bill provides a pathway for local governments to expand protected classes, but it has a check on the power of city councils — it puts a referendum on there, and that’s been the issue that the governor has taken a stand on. And as long as the governor has taken the stand he has, I can’t get the Democratic votes.
I encourage you to read this long easy over at @politico on HB 2 in North Carolina. It’s long read – but it’s a good one getting perspective from both sides (rural and urban interests colliding).
So, you not only have two sides digging in their heels here on HB 2, but you also have some from the majority party that have concerns about taking legislative action in North Carolina (and the votes aren’t there for an entire repeal of HB2). That’s never a recipe for success to meet the NCAA deadline above. If I had to guess now, I’d say that North Carolina will not be in the picture for NCAA events from 2018-2022. What does that mean for the ACC championship events? That’s a topic for another post, which I will do tomorrow tonight, but I venture to guess it’s going to have a similar outcome.