“As a black person, I’m against any form of discrimination – against whites Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it,”
The 2017 NBA All-Star Game may be 10 months away, but Charles Barkley is already strongly urging the NBA to pull the league’s highlight-reeled weekend out of Charlotte after North Carolina passed a law barring the extension of civil rights protections to its gay, lesbian, and transgender population.
In an interview with CNN, Barkley said he wanted to use his platform as a celebrity to speak on behalf of those whose voice may not reach as large of an audience, saying the NBA should stand tall in solidarity with the LGBT community and reject any league-sanctioned event that would enable the city and state to profit from its organization.
“As a black person, I’m against any form of discrimination – against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it,” Barkley said, “It’s my job, with the position of power that I’m in and being able to be on television, I’m supposed to stand up for the people who can’t stand up for themselves. So I think the NBA should move the All-Star Game from Charlotte.,”
The law, House Bill 2, ironically was passed as a backlash to a series of protections that Charlotte passed safeguarding its LGBT community from discrimination, which Governor Pat McCrory warned at the time would be met with swift retaliation.
HB2 was signed into law a few weeks later.
This is not the first time Barkley has taken a strong stance on social and cultural issues; for all of his outlandish antics, he has spoken out strongly against racism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry on numerous occasions, most notably a year ago when he urged the NCAA to move the Final Four out of Indianapolis when a similar law was passed by the Indiana state legislature.
For their part, the NBA made a statement hinting that this was in strong consideration.
“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events,” the league said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect, and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”
Barkley and the NBA join a growing chorus of private sector companies and public figures using their following and financial muscle to pressure North Carolina into repealing this bigoted legislation.
Two weeks ago Google Ventures announced that it would not back any companies in the state until HB2 is repealed, and earlier this week PayPal announced it was abandoning its plans to open a new global operations center in Charlotte, which would have created 400 new skilled jobs. PayPal’s CEO announced the decision in a statement saying that “legislation has been abruptly enacted by the State of North Carolina that invalidates protections of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens and denies these members of our community equal rights under the law.”
At the time of PayPal’s announcement for its operations facility, McCrory had bragged about this economic achievement as a major win for Charlotte’s growing tech community, saying “Today’s announcement means that we can add another prominent company to the state’s growing list of technology businesses with major operations here.”
McCrory was unavailable for comment after the decision was made public.
At the moment, the NFL is still planning on hosting next month’s owners’ meetings, with league spokesman Brian McCarthy telling ESPN.com “We embrace diversity and inclusiveness in all of our policies. The Oanthers have made clear their position of non-discrimination and respect for all their fans. The city of Charlotte also has made clear its position.”
Your move, Governor.