March 31, 2017
It was a buzzer-beating shot, but when legislators tried to appease the NCAA, no one in North Carolina won. The "fake repeal" of HB 2 (as liberals called it), was -- as far as most people were concerned -- worse than doing nothing. Desperate to pass something before the NCAA's midnight deadline, lawmakers attempted to piece together a bill that reset the state's bathroom, locker room, and shower policies to the pre-2016 standard. To the Left's frustration, also bars anyone but the state from enacting gender-free ordinances like Charlotte's for at least three years.
In the tight circle of LGBT activists, groups seethed. "This is not a repeal of HB 2," an incensed ACLU said. "North Carolina lawmakers should be ashamed of this backroom deal that continues to play politics with the lives of LGBT North Carolinians." HRC's Chad Griffin launched attack after attack on his twitter feed, arguing that "This new law does not repeal HB 2. Instead, it institutes a statewide prohibition on equality by banning non-discrimination protections across North Carolina and fuels the flames of anti-transgender hate."
But the biggest question coming out of Thursday's fiasco isn't how liberals feel. Or even conservatives. It's about how the one group the measure was tailored to please -- the NCAA -- would respond. And even now, no one knows. In the greatest of ironies, legislators rushed to make a bad deal they aren't even sure the organization will support! At the Final Four press conference in Arizona, all eyes were on NCAA President Mark Emmert, who took as many questions on HB 142 as he did about the tournament semi-finals. Until the board meets, he told reporters, the organization has no official position on the deal. "We've tried to do a number of analyses, laying them all side by side, and it very quickly becomes very, very difficult. What distinguished North Carolina was, as you pointed out, there were four distinct problems that the board had with that bill. They've removed some of those now but now, as you point out, not all of them. And the question the board will be debating [is]: If you remove two or three of them, is that enough-- relative to other states?"
Although Emmert warned that the decision would be a "very difficult one," he insists the group is just happy "they have a bill to debate and discuss. The politics of this in North Carolina are obviously very, very difficult. But they have passed a bill now and it will be a great opportunity for our board to sit and debate and discuss it." One thing's for sure: they won't be considering it in a vacuum. HRC, SPLC, ACLU, NAACP, Planned Parenthood, Equality NC, Lambda Legal, and other extremists left little doubt where they stand. From the pages of USA Today to local outlets like the Charlotte Observer, liberals said the message from the NCAA to North Carolina should be simple: "pound sand." How seriously the association will take their advice (one would assume very seriously, since LGBT activists have had the NCAA on a string for years) remains to be seen.
Conservatives, meanwhile, were already irked by one of Emmert's closing statements, which suggested that the NCAA was never trying to meddle in North Carolina politics. "I think there's one other point that needs to be really clear. And that is the NCAA does not consider itself -- the board, myself, the staff -- does not consider itself an entity that has any business telling a state what their laws should be. State's laws and community's laws are the business of their elected leaders and the citizens of those states." How he said that with a straight face, I have no idea. What does he call an ultimatum for state leaders to repeal a law? Exchanging pleasantries? The NCAA knew exactly what it was doing when it took North Carolina's tournaments hostage.
For now, the business community may be the only ones happy with the bill, which is almost comical -- since they were the ones least affected by it! The law had already given executives the freedom to open their bathrooms and locker rooms to anyone (an option most refused). Instead, they railed against HB 2 while their own facilities went untouched. Where the debate goes from now is anyone's guess. We know that the only compromise the Left will accept is the total surrender of those who oppose their lunacy. And as willing as state leaders may be to grovel to the NCAA, voters won't be nearly as indulgent. They understand that basketball may be important, but the privacy and safety of their children isn't a game.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.