When North Carolina’s Republican Governor, Pat McCrory, signed into law a bill that barred local governments from extending civil rights protections to gay and transgender people, the backlash from political leaders, business and professional sports organizations, leagues and teams was immediate and nationwide. And with good reason. The North Carolina law doesn’t just trample the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people. It actually puts at risk the safety of transgender people, especially transgender women, who have been assaulted when forced to use men’s bathrooms.
But NFL team owners are sticking to their guns. They won’t move their next meeting, set for May 23-25, out of Charlotte. In a move reminiscent of the NFL’s response to the league’s domestic violence problem that was brought into the open by the Ray Rice incident, the NFL is treating the issue as a PR problem that can be addressed with a press release, instead of decisive action.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) issued a statement warning it might move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte unless the law was struck down. The NCAA, ACC, USGA and the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes all pledged to monitor the situation. Even Paypal shelved plans to invest millions in a new global operations center in Charlotte.
“We embrace diversity and inclusiveness in all of our policies,” a league spokesman insisted. “The meeting will take place in the city of Charlotte.”
Maybe team owners have already reserved their tee time in Charlotte and don’t want to scramble to find a new location for next month’s meeting. But what’s clear is that they don’t want to acknowledge that as the proprietors of the country’s most profitable and popular sport, they have a responsibility to condemn discrimination in all its forms.
As the NBA, Paypal and others have shown, it’s not that hard for an organization to show courage in the face of bigotry — but it’s apparently too hard for the NFL. NOW calls on the NFL to move its upcoming meeting out of North Carolina, and refuse to conduct any official business there so long as state-sponsored discrimination against the LGBTQ community is on the books.