A letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Dear Commissioner Silver:

Discrimination has no place in modern America. The actions of the North Carolina state government in passing House Bill 2 (“HB2”), an anti-LGBT measure, are profoundly disappointing. It represents an attempt to bend the arc of the moral universe, in Dr. King’s words, away from justice and equality. As one of America’s and the world’s premier sports leagues with hundreds of millions of fans of all colors, creeds, sexes, and sexual orientations, we urge you to take a stand against this latest form of discrimination and move the 2017 NBA All-Star Game away from Charlotte, N.C.

As you know, the North Carolina legislature called an emergency session on March 23 and passed HB2, disingenuously titled the “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.” The Act was signed by the governor that same day. The Act forces transgender individuals to use bathrooms that differ from their gender identity and preempts local governments from passing non-discrimination ordinances protecting members of the LGBT community. Put plainly, HB2 provides businesses, government contractors, hotels, and other institutions with a license to discriminate, and no city council or county government can do a thing about it. This is just wrong.

Millions of Americans and millions more people around the world look up to the NBA. The NBA boasts one of the most multicultural and multiethnic groups of players of any sports league in the world with more than 100 international players on its rosters. The NBA also made history just two years ago this month when Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete to play in a major American professional sports league.

We hold no ill-will towards the people of Charlotte, who passed an antidiscrimination measure that HB2 overturned, or towards the people of North Carolina. However, we cannot condone nor stand idly by as North Carolina moves to legalize and institutionalize discrimination against the LGBT community. Nor should the NBA allow its premier annual event to be hosted in such a state. Doing so, we believe, would be inconsistent with the NBA’s history and values. Therefore, we echo the words of NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley and call on the NBA to move the All-Star game from Charlotte.

Sincerely,
Senator Jeff Merkley
Senator Mark Kirk
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Cory Booker
Senator Tammy Baldwin
Senator Patty Murray