NCAA should not cancel N.C. boycott

WiG staff

The NCAA is “reluctantly” considering ending its boycott of North Carolina after the state passed what it called a “compromise” bill to its infamous HB2. That legislation, which prompted the NCAA’s boycott and many others, banned trans citizens from using public restrooms corresponding to their gender expression. In direct violation of a Supreme Court ruling, HB2 also forbade municipalities from enacting policies to protect LGBT people from discrimination.

But nearly all of the discriminatory laws that made HB2 a civil-rights travesty remain in place. The only thing that the so-called “compromise” bill compromised is the safety and well-being of the state’s LGBT citizens.

The NCAA’s decision to reconsider its boycott calls into question both its understanding of the law’s effects  and its commitment to LGBT equality.

We urge the NCAA, other sports organizations, entertainers and businesses who called for a boycott of North Carolina to hang tough.

If not for the fact that HB2 would have cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years, according to an Associated Press analysis, lawmakers would never have considered any further action on the law. If all those entities that decided to boycott the state let it off the hook now, they will empower the bigots responsible for HB2.

The new law leaves North Carolina’s hard-right Legislature in control of where trans citizens can do their business. It means that bearded, masculine trans men will still have to use the ladies’ room in public places, and trans women in full make-up and high heels will have to use the men’s room.

The new law also, like the old one, prohibits municipalities from enacting ordinances to protect LGBT people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The only difference is that the “compromise” bill states that policy will end in December 2020. We don’t know what exactly to make of this stalling policy except that it’s blatantly illegal under federal law.

The Supreme Court decided in Romer v. Evans (1996) that it’s unconstitutional for states to forbid cities, towns, and counties from enacting nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. North Carolina is at this moment operating in defiance of that ruling — just so right-wing bigots can throw people they perceive to be gay, lesbian or trans out of their businesses and refuse them housing, credit or wedding cakes.

So, is the extension meant to give North Carolinians time to absorb the shocking idea that they can’t violate the civil rights of LGBT folks? Or is it a signal that they’d better get all their homophobia and transphobia out of their systems in the next two and a half years?

The repeal “compromise” already has backfired. No one is happy with it — not voters on the right or left.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement: “Just like we did with … (former Gov. Pat) McCrory, we will hold all elected officials accountable — Democrats and Republicans — who target our community by advancing this statewide ban on nondiscrimination protections.”

McCrory, a Republican, narrowly lost his re-election bid, partly because of a backlash over his support of HB2. Meanwhile, Donald Trump won the state’s presidential election.

Activists in North Carolina and across the nation must keep up the pressure and make good on Griffin’s threat. We must make the purveyors of discrimination pay for their sins, which include the uncompromising compromise they reached.