TAR HEEL VIEW: Final call for reset on HB2

When Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Boston elected to cancel concerts earlier this year to bring attention to the passage of HB2, The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, the ripple effects were hardly noticed.

When PayPal and Deutsche Bank elected to pull back their intentions to expand their businesses in the state and take nearly 650 jobs elsewhere because of HB2, the effects were once again minimal to an economy with a gross domestic product of $510 billion.

Even the loss of next season’s NBA All-Star Game was met with little more than a raised eyebrow because Commissioner Adam Silver said Charlotte would be in the mix for 2019 game if things regarding the law are worked out.

Despite these cracks in the HB2 dam, the legislators behind the bill — state Sen. Phil Berger, the President Pro Tempore; state Rep. Paul Stam, the Speaker Pro Tempore; and Gov. Pat McCrory — refused to budge off their high horse and continued to believe everything, especially the law, was fine. Support for the bill’s passage reached as high as 56 percent before taking a nose dive in May. That is when 38 percent believed HB2 should remain on the books, while 50 percent said to repeal it. The law is so toxic that it has become a focal point of this year’s gubernatorial race.

The discussion surrounding HB2 is only going to get more heated following the announcement by the NCAA Monday night and what else might be coming down the pike. The NCAA pulled seven championship events from the state because of HB2. Among the events are the men’s basketball first- and second-round games in Greensboro. Also getting moved from the state are the Division I women’s soccer championship in Cary and the Division III men’s and women’s soccer championships also in Greensboro.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said even though other states passed laws similar to HB2, North Carolina’s was more stringent.

“At the end of the day, the board was looking at the core values of college sports in America,” Emmert said to the Associated Press. “That these are about sports that are conducted within the context of higher education and the values of fairness of inclusion are so central to what we all believe in, that the law HB2 that was passed as the most comprehensive of the laws that have been enacted around limiting LGBT rights, was just a bridge too far.

“It would have been impossible to conduct championship events in the state with that law in place that lived up to the values and expectations of the member universities and colleges.”

There might be more bad news coming soon as ACC Commissioner John Swofford hinted the league’s football championship game could be on the move. Right now, Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium is scheduled to host the contest through 2019, but the ACC’s council of presidents is meeting in Clemson, South Carolina this week and HB2 is set to be a topic of discussion.

No matter how Berger, Stam and McCrory or anyone else attempts to spin it, things are going to get worse. The most frustrating thing is that it didn’t need to go this way in Raleigh.

Earlier this year we urged the General Assembly to hit the reset button on HB2 and for members from both parties to come together to work toward legislation we could all live with. We made that call one other time and it again fell on deaf ears. Hopefully the third time is the charm. We urge our leaders to return to Raleigh for another special session — like the one they called to pass the bill — and work on a compromise to turn the nation’s view about this great state.

The Sanford Herald

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