How nationally despised is the discriminatory new bathroom law in North Carolina? Let us count the ways.
Since March, when the state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, signed the bill forcing transgender people into the bathroom of the gender they were born with, it has been condemned by corporations, celebrities and moral leaders.
It has cost the state prestige and employment. Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and others have canceled concerts. Beyonce, Jimmy Buffett and more have played but spoken against the law, which also bars cities from passing ordinances to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.
PayPal alone cost the state 400 jobs, canceling a global operations center in Charlotte. Meanwhile, the law – along with imitators elsewhere – has prompted the federal Department of Education and Justice Department to tell schools they’re risking federal funds if they treat transgender students differently from students of the same gender identity.
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So far, no good. In fact, on Wednesday, 11 conservative states sued the federal government, accusing the Obama administration of overreach.
Professional sports needs to make it clear that they won’t do business with bigots.
Against this backdrop, the San Francisco 49ers are to be praised for speaking out this week as National Football League owners met in Charlotte. CEO Jed York’s call to repeal the law because “discrimination is wrong” was the most direct appeal yet from a sports franchise in a state where sports franchises have clout.
The sports world has been too cautious about denouncing this meanness. The National Basketball Association has hinted it might reconsider the league’s scheduled 2017 All-Star game in Charlotte. The NCAA has questioned plans plans to host at least 20 big games in North Carolina in 2017 and 2018.
But “may” and “might” hardly cut it in the face of state-sponsored cruelty to a tiny minority that is already regularly bullied and worse in locker rooms and bathrooms. And though North Carolina’s NBA and National Hockey League franchises, the Hornets and the Hurricanes, have issued statements opposing discrimination, they’ve stopped short of explicitly coming out against the state’s bathroom edict.
Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers, the state’s NFL team, has been pathetically mum.
Professional sports needs to make it clear that they won’t do business with bigots. There’s no reason in the market for them not to get tough. A CNN/ORC Poll released this month found that six Americans in 10 oppose laws like North Carolina’s. Not even a majority of Republicans support them.
Lawyers may spar and politicians may posture, but this is about whether inclusiveness is part of our culture. How about a goal-line stand for tolerance?