Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
North Carolina legislators may not love what is good and hate what is evil as Paul admonished, but they do love money more than they hate their LGBTQ neighbors.
And in this case, that is progress.
Legislators have repealed HB-2, the controversial “Bathroom Bill,” in an attempt to reverse the outflow of businesses and the cancellation of concerts and sporting events growing out of a widespread revulsion at the discrimination and hatred embodied in the original bill.
As he signed the replacement bill into law, newly elected Governor Roy Cooper commented, "For over a year now, House Bill 2 has been a dark cloud hanging over our great state. It has stained our reputation. It has discriminated against our people and it has caused great economic harm in many of our communities."
In a classic understatement he called the new bill “not a perfect deal.” And to his credit, he said it was “not my preferred solution.”
The good news is the repeal of the most egregious part of the original bill, which required everyone to use the restroom conforming to the gender assigned on their birth certificate. The revised bill means returning to the previous norm by which each person chose the restroom corresponding to the gender with which they identified.
So far, so good.
But apparently fearing that goodness might get ahead of them, the legislators prohibited municipalities from enacting their own ordinances protecting the rights of LGBTQ persons. In other words, in North Carolina it will remain legal to discriminate against LGBTQ persons. You can be fired or denied housing because you are gay or transgender.
Whether the new bill will be enough to bring the NCAA back to the state remains to be seen.
Shannon Ryan, writing for the Chicago Tribune, notes that the NCAA has been waiting for the North Carolina legislature to address the issues of discrimination before deciding on host sites for 2018-2022.
NCAA President Paul Emmert said at a Final Four news conference Thursday that the site selection committees “have to wait and see whether or not the board of governors will determine whether or not this bill that was recently passed is a sufficient change in the law for the board to feel comfortable going back to North Carolina."
CNN reports that the NCAA listed four factors in its decision last September to move their events:
"North Carolina laws invalidate any local law that treats sexual orientation as a protected class or has a purpose to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals.
"North Carolina has the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender on one's birth certificate, regardless of gender identity.
North Carolina law provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community.
"Five states plus numerous cities prohibit travel to North Carolina for public employees and representatives of public institutions, which could include student-athletes and campus athletics staff. These states are New York, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont and Connecticut."The revised law addresses just one of those factors. And it enshrines discrimination by prohibiting municipalities from enacting their own anti-discrimination laws until 2020.
My hope is that the NCAA will see that the revision does not go far enough. It does not even restore the status quo.
The NCAA decision means $3.76 billion to the state over the four years from 2018 to 2020. The legislators may have no understanding of equal protection or of what it means to love your neighbors. But they apparently understand money.
The NCAA huge influence.
And they should use it for good.
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