NBA Tells North Carolina Changes to LGBT Law HB2 Aren't Enough

North Carolina Clashes With U.S. Over New Public Restroom Law
A gender neutral sign is posted outside a bathrooms at Oval Park Grill on May 11, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.Sara D. Davis / Getty Images

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By Jon Schuppe

The NBA, seeking to exert more influence in North Carolina's LGBT debate, told state lawmakers that revisions to its controversial anti-discrimination law did not go far enough.

The league suggested it might even pull the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if a compromise did not meet its "guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all."

In a joint statement with the Charlotte Hornets, the league said it did not endorse draft amendments released to the media this week, and encouraged lawmakers to keep working on a compromise. The statement closed with the thinly veiled threat that "there has been no new decision" on next year's game.

Related: North Carolina Floats Changes to HB2, but Critics Scoff

It's unclear how seriously the lawmakers are taking the NBA's position as they rush to try to come up with changes before the current legislative session ends.

The law, known as HB2, was passed and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in a special one-day session in March, partly in response to a local law passed in Charlotte that allowed transgender people to use bathrooms of their chosen gender. The state law overrode all local nondiscrimination measures and made it illegal for transgender people from using bathrooms in government buildings that did not match the genders on their birth certificates.

A gender neutral sign is posted outside a bathrooms at Oval Park Grill on May 11, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.Sara D. Davis / Getty Images

The measure sparked a ferocious backlash, as corporations, musicians and sports leagues threatened to withdraw from the state. The Obama administration sued the state, saying the new law was discriminatory, and threatened to withdraw federal aid. On the same day, McCrory sued the federal government to prevent it from blocking HB2.

Since then, Republican lawmakers, who engineered HB2, and Democrats, who are in the ruling minority, have been negotiating changes that would ease critics' opposition. They reportedly include the creation of an alternative document that recognizes a person's gender reassignment — a provision LGBT rights advocates said would not help the untold number of transgender people who haven't undergone gender reassignment surgery.

Republican leaders in the state House and Senate did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But they indicated to the Charlotte Observer Thursday that the two sides appeared to remain divided.