Photo by Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Last summer, the NCAA joined a growing chorus of voices in opposition to North Carolina's legislated bigotry when it pulled NCAA championship events from the state because of HB2, a bill that required free citizens to use only the bathroom that corresponded to the gender designated on their birth certificate. Among other events, the NCAA relocated the first two rounds of the just-completed men's basketball tournament from Greensboro. Last week, North Carolina legislators repealed HB2 and replaced it with a capitulation masked as compromise, and on Tuesday the NCAA announced that it would allow championship events to be hosted in the state again.
In addition to regulating bathroom usage, what made HB2 so offensive was that it was a reaction to a local ordinance that prohibited LGBTQ discrimination in Charlotte. The state legislature passed the bill, nullifying Charlotte's "protection" of LGBTQ persons, particularly trans people—protection in scare quotes because it merely put those in the specified class on the same footing as everyone else in the state—and any other laws or ordinances that offered more protections than those provided by state law. Guess which class of North Carolinians isn't protected under existing state law? Guess who just got hosed again by HB142?
The new law repeals the bathroom bill but still leaves bathroom regulation under the control of the legislature; more importantly, it prevents local governments from passing or modifying their own nondiscrimination ordinances like the Charlotte measure that prompted HB2. You read that right: in North Carolina, you cannot pass a bill aimed at preventing discrimination. This is not a success! Even Governor Roy Cooper, who called HB2 a black cloud over the state and pushed for the repeal in the first place, had this to say about the new bill: "Not a perfect deal and it is not my preferred solution." He signed it into law anyway.
And now the NCAA joins Cooper in tepid acceptance of the new law. Let's look at some excerpts from this hangdog statement in which college sports' governing body said it will lift the de facto ban on championship events in North Carolina.
Have you ever seen more craven gibberish in your life?
The NCAA and other entities like the NBA played a driving force in nationally shaming a small band of bigoted legislators in North Carolina, and cost the state an estimated millions of dollars, but the pressure only went so far. The new bill is being described as putting North Carolina in the same position as it was before HB2, but that is simply not true. Before HB2 was enacted, the people of North Carolina could—and did—pass an ordinance making it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in their communities. Greensboro, or any other local municipality, could not do that today. This repeal and replace law has restored the pre-HB2 status quo in one respect, however: thanks to the NCAA, Greensboro can host men's basketball tournament games again.