On Friday, NASCAR joined numerous organizations and corporations in expressing opposition to North Carolina’s “bathroom bill.” NASCAR joined PayPal, RedVentures, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, and others in expressing distaste for the new law, which isn’t just about public restrooms, but locker rooms and fitting rooms as well.
Some corporations, like PayPal, have actually cancelled plans for expansion in North Carolina, while others have threatened to. Senator Jeff Jackson recently shared a letter to Governor Pat McCrory from RedVentures.
“…I am forced to seriously reconsider adding more jobs in a state that tolerates discrimination…”
NASCAR, however, falls into a third category. It has neither pulled business from North Carolina nor threatened to. Instead, Chairman Brian France has merely released a strong statement.
According to the Charlotte Observer, France said that the organization does not issue threats, write legislation, or make demands, but that they consider NASCAR a part of the communities it serves, and that, as such, they have a role in letting policy makers know how they feel about certain issues.
“We take the position that any discrimination, unintended or not, we do not like that and we are working behind the scenes, and we are not a political institution. We don’t set agendas or write laws but we express our values to policy makers. We will and we do. We are real clear about that.”
It’s not the first time that the NASCAR chairman has made a political statement this year. According to ESPN, Chairman France also took heat this year for endorsing Donald Trump for president, and was forced to clarify that he was endorsing Trump personally, not on behalf of NASCAR. He also clarified that he did not support Trump for his views on immigration, but for creating excitement and improving voter turnout.
The News & Observer reports that the NBA, however, has issued such threats or warnings, with Commissioner Adam Silver saying that the 2017 All-Star game, currently scheduled to play in Charlotte, North Carolina, will be relocated unless the bathroom bill is reversed.
One state senator, Jeff Jackson, expressed gratitude on Thursday, thanking the NBA for pressuring the state to eliminate the “bathroom bill” rather than simply cancelling the game outright.
— Sen. Jeff Jackson (@JeffJacksonNC) April 21, 2016
Other members of North Carolina’s government, however, are resisting any change to HB2, the legislation known widely as the “bathroom bill.” Governor Pat McCrory last week characterized pressure from organizations like the NBA as “threats and selective outrage from special interests, business elite as well as the media.”
He further said these issues deserve “real dialogue” instead.
State Senator Phil Berger agrees so strongly that he has authorized a Senatorial Committee to collect signatures of those who support the “bathroom bill,” using an image of an apparently cisgender (“cis” means “not trans”) male walking into a women’s bathroom while Governor McCrory smiles in the foreground.
(An opposing petition calls for McCrory to repeal the “bathroom bill” in full.)
Berger has characterized opposition to the bathroom bill as “radical social reengineering of our society by forcing middle school-aged girls to share school locker rooms with boys.”
However, NASCAR, the NBA, PayPal, and others may not have to hold a boycott of the state for long. On Tuesday, ABC reports, the 4th Circuit Court, which presides over North Carolina as well, ruled on a Virginia case, in which a trans male student was being prevented from using a male bathroom at his school, because he was assigned female at birth. The court ruled that this violated Title IX, the Federal law preventing discrimination in schools, and ignored a U.S. Department of Education policy declaring that transgender children must be allowed to use the bathroom matching their identity.
This ruling has obvious implications for HB2, but Governor McCrory announced this week that he would have to “evaluate the impact of this court ruling on existing legislation, on existing policy that we have throughout North Carolina.”
The bathroom bill is currently the subject of lawsuits of its own.
[Image via Office of Governor Pat McCrory]