For months, Pat McCrory and the GOP leadership in North Carolina have been engaged in a game of chicken with college athletics in North Carolina. In the days following the passage of HB2, entertainers canceled concerts and businesses moved conventions. Pat McCrory and the GOP defiantly called them Hollywood elitists and blamed Charlotte for the losses. Then, the NBA moved the All-star game out of Charlotte. Still, the Republicans stubbornly refused to budge.
Through it all, everyone knew that the big decision would come from the NCAA and ACC. North Carolina has always prided itself for its college sports, especially basketball. Both the NCAA and the ACC have been making it clear that they weren’t happy with HB2 and its discriminatory policies. They’ve given McCrory and the state legislature six months to repeal it or seriously overhaul it. Instead, the GOP leadership seemed to be daring them to pull college events. This week, they did.
The NCAA response did to HB2 and other policies what the Fourth District Court did to the voter suppression bill. While McCrory and the GOP claim HB2 is about bathrooms, the NCAA made clear its decision was based on the collective impact of measures that discriminate against the LGBT community. The NCAA points out that North Carolina is unique because:
- HB2 overrides any local nondiscrimination policies;
- It “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;”
- The state allows government employees to discriminate against gays and lesbians by refusing to marry them;
- Travel bans by other states put games at risk.
As the N&O states, “Regarding LGBT rights, North Carolina has at least one restriction that no other state has, and no other state has the combination of laws North Carolina has.”
Similarly, Republicans claim the voter suppression law is about voter ID. The court made clear that the law carefully targeted communities, particularly African-Americans, that might vote against them. Voter ID was just a component of a host of measures meant to discourage voting.
With both voter ID and HB2, the GOP could have passed laws that would have passed muster. Instead, they piled on provisions that gave lie to their stated intent. With voter ID, they were trying to rig elections. With HB2, they were pandering to their base in an election year. Those laws are the epitome of putting politics before people.
McCrory and the GOP have lost credibility and the benefit of the doubt. They repeatedly overreach to broadly discriminate against whole communities. Their thin rationales get exposed but they fail to change their behavior and instead attack the messengers. Now, the messengers are firing back. In their stubborn arrogance, McCrory and the GOP are turning North Carolina into a pariah state.