- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2017

The NBA says it will likely return its All-Star Game to Charlotte, North Carolina, after lawmakers repealed the state’s bathroom bill.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said it’s not a “done deal,” but added that he expects Charlotte to be chosen as the host of the 2019 All-Star Game after the application process works its way out. He said the NBA will ask partners of the event to sign a nondiscrimination pact to ensure it meets the league’s standards.

“If those requirements are met, it’s our expectation the All-Star festivities will be there for 2019,” Mr. Silver told reporters Friday following a league meeting.

North Carolina lost out on the 2017 All-Star Game after the state enacted HB2, which regulated public restrooms, locker rooms and showers on the basis of biological sex. The NBA said the legislation ran contrary to its values and moved the game to New Orleans in response.

Republican lawmakers repealed HB2 in a compromise last month with Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper.

The new legislation, HB142, repeals the bathroom bill but places a three-year moratorium on local nondiscrimination ordinances that would essentially regulate restrooms on the basis of gender identity.

The NCAA also made North Carolina eligible to host championship games again, after pulling seven events out of the state last year.

Gay-rights groups that spearheaded a boycott in North Carolina were not happy with the compromise, calling it a repeal of HB2 in name only.

Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally, called the NBA’s decision to return to North Carolina “disappointing.”

“To move their All-Star Game back to North Carolina while LGBT people aren’t protected under the law is a decision undermining the safety and well-being of the LGBT community,” Mr. Taylor said in a statement.

But Mr. Silver said the NBA can do more to uphold gay and transgender rights by returning to North Carolina, calling the decision a “powerful way to display our values of equality and inclusion.”

“By engaging more deeply in North Carolina we can be part of a national effort to secure more LGBT rights in North Carolina,” the commissioner said.

The NBA was one of several companies, including PayPal, Deutsche Bank and Voxpro, that claimed to curtail business activity in North Carolina last year in response to HB2.

Although the boycott represented a minuscule fraction of the state’s annual $500 billion economy and failed to unseat North Carolina as a regional and national powerhouse, the gay-rights movement leveraged the corporate desertions to pressure lawmakers into repealing HB2.

Mr. Silver said he was proud of the league’s political stand and said the NBA can be a “force for change” going forward.

“I’m proud of the league’s stance and announcing that we weren’t going to play under those circumstances, and I’m also proud that we’re going back,” he said.

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