Politics & Government

NC’s ‘bathroom bill’ is closing the window on hopes of landing NCAA events

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, and Equality NC held a press conference on Sept. 19, 2016 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center to oppose House Bill 2.
The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, and Equality NC held a press conference on Sept. 19, 2016 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center to oppose House Bill 2. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

North Carolina could have until mid-March to repeal House Bill 2 or lose dozens of NCAA champion events for the next six years, a leader of the Raleigh Sports Alliance said Friday.

Scott Dupree, executive director of the alliance, said the window is closing on any repeal if lawmakers don’t repeal HB2.

“In a matter of days, our state is about to suffer significant historic losses in the sports tourism industry,” Dupree told the Charlotte Observer. “And our window to save these events is closing fast.”

Dupree said NCAA sources have told sports officials that they’ve started to review sites for the championship events. He said N.C. cities, colleges and universities have submitted 133 bids through 2022. He said they represent more than $250 million in economic impact.

Dupree also said that NCAA sources have said committees representing different sports will begin eliminating N.C. bids if HB2 is still on the books.

HB2 already has been blamed for lost sporting events.

Last year the NCAA pulled basketball tournament games. And the Atlantic Coast Conference moved its football championship from Charlotte to Orlando.

HB2, passed in response to a Charlotte ordinance, is the law that bars cities from extending anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community. Among other things it requires transgender persons to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate in government buildings.

An effort to repeal it failed in December during a special session of the General Assembly.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, introduced a bill that would have repealed the law but enacted a six-month moratorium on ordinances like Charlotte’s.

Democrats, including Gov. Roy Cooper, opposed the moratorium, saying it could be extended indefinitely.

“HB2 would have been long gone if Gov. Cooper had not directed all Senate Democrats to block its repeal,” Berger said Friday in a statement. “And he is going to have to work toward a compromise that keeps women from being forced to share bathrooms and shower facilities with men to move past this distraction.”

In a statement Friday night, Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said: “The votes for a clean repeal existed in both chambers in December and legislative leaders could still repeal this law today. Gov. Cooper is hopeful that politics can be set aside in the interest of North Carolina’s economy and he will continue to work with members of both parties to reach an agreement to undo the damage this law has caused.”

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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