With the NBA All-Star Game, North Carolina’s HB2 Loss is a Win for New Orleans

by Ryan Wilson

After the North Carolina General Assembly failed to repeal HB2, the NBA moved the All-Star Game from Charlotte to a city where their fans and players would feel safe.

For the past 11 months, North Carolina’s legislative leaders have refused to repeal HB2, which prevents cities from passing non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people and explicitly bars transgender people from accessing restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity in government owned buildings, including many airports and sports facilities.

As a result, the NBA gave legislative leaders several warnings that NBA owners were unanimous in opposing the bill and if HB2 was not repealed, they would move the game. In the end, the NC General Assembly failed to act and so the NBA announced its move of the game to a city where their fans and players would feel safe.

According to the NBA All-Star Game’s website, Charlotte will get the game back in 2019 pending the law being changed.”

HRC has been working with Equality North Carolina since HB2 was passed in haste last March, first on building pressure for repeal during the 2016 legislative session and then during the elections to encourage pro-equality voters to weigh in on the issue at the ballot box.

In November, North Carolinians made it clear that they want HB2 gone. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory became the only incumbent governor from either party to lose on election day specifically because he championed and signed HB2 into law. North Carolina polling released by HRC and Equality NC found that HB2 was the number one issue leading to McCrory’s defeat -- the only incumbent governor from either party to lose on election day. The HRC and Equality NC survey found that 62 percent of voters opposed HB2, while only 30 percent supported the law. HB2 was also listed as the leading reason to vote against McCrory -- with 57 percent citing the bill, 17 points above any other issue.

In the end, Louisiana and New Orleans are set to win big from tourism spending as a result of the NBA All-Star Game this weekend. Louisiana has no state law similar to North Carolina’s HB2 and in contrast, last year Louisiana Governor John Bel Edward signed an executive order adding non-discrimination protections on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation for state employees and contractors.

Earning a score of 89 out of 100 on the HRC Foundation’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index, New Orleans has non-discrimination protections that explicitly protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination in public and private employment, housing, and public accommodations.

These protections in New Orleans deserve celebration and can be attributed to the work of the local LGBTQ community, organizations like Forum for Equality, and HRC’s New Orleans Steering Committee. Because of years of advocacy at the local level, New Orleans has sent a clear signal that they are open for business, and thankfully that has been rewarded this week by the NBA.

We applaud all the efforts in New Orleans to be inclusive and welcoming this NBA All-Star weekend and hope that the NC General Assembly is taking note of what they are missing.