WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) and Equality NC, the statewide organization working to secure equal rights and justice for LGBxTQ North Carolinians, responded to the decision by the Atlantic Coast Conference ( ACC ) to move the league's 2016 football championship game to Orlando, Florida, due to North Carolina's deeply discriminatory HB2 law.
"What will it take for Governor McCrory and state legislative leaders to stop holding the people and economy of North Carolina hostage?" said HRC President Chad Griffin. "The ACC, based in Greensboro, has now joined the growing list of organizations moving games and other events out of state in order to protect fans, students, and employees from Governor McCrory's discriminatory HB2 law. The ACC's decision to move the 2016 football championship to Orlando — a city with a perfect 100 point Municipal Equality Index score that has also come together in the wake of a tragic attack on the LGBTQ community — has sent an especially strong message to Governor McCrory and his allies. The days of attacking LGBTQ people for political gain are over."
"It has been almost 200 days since Governor Pat McCrory and his legislative allies have pushed through the worst anti-LGBTQ bill in the nation without consideration of harm to the state," said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. "Every day that goes by, LGBTQ North Carolinians are at risk of continued discrimination, and North Carolina's economy will continue to suffer. Losing the ACC championship game to Orlando is saddening, but not surprising. Orlando has comprehensive non-discrimination protections that make it a welcoming place for all fans and players. Governor McCrory needs to stop playing politics and do what's best for North Carolina. He needs to repeal HB2 and focus on protecting all North Carolinians from discrimination. Only then will we win back the NCAA, ACC, and other vital events."
The ACC's decision comes after Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly refused — once again — to repeal the state's vile and dangerous HB2 law. In a new interview out today, House Speaker Tim Moore admitted that the General Assembly never intended to repeal HB2 — even if the city of Charlotte repealed its city ordinance protecting LGBTQ people. Speaker Moore and others had previously attempted to pressure Charlotte's city council into repealing its ordinance as a way to saddle the city with political blame for HB2.
The city of Orlando earned a perfect 100 point score on the 2015 HRC Foundation's Municipal Equality Index, and it has fully inclusive, non-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ residents and visitors — even more comprehensive protections than those Charlotte passed in February. Recognizing the importance of creating a positive and conducive environment for business, Charlotte city leaders joined 100 other cities with similar ordinances, and in response, Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers doubled down on discrimination by ramming HB2 into law.
In making the decision to move championship games out of North Carolina, the ACC first announced on September 14, 2016: "As members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the ACC Council of Presidents reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination. Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites. We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year. All locations will be announced in the future from the conference office."
The ACC announcement follows the NCAA's decision to stand up for LGBTQ equality by moving all 2016-2017 championship events out of the state of North Carolina due to HB2. Citing the hostile environment created by the anti-LGBTQ law, the NBA also previously announced it is moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of the state, costing North Carolina an estimated $100 million in All-Star Game related profits.
Despite widespread opposition to HB2, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly have been unwilling to even consider repealing the full substance of the discriminatory law, including its ban on transgender people accessing restrooms consistent with their gender identity in government offices and schools, and its removal of municipalities' ability to pass LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws and minimum wage ordinances.