San Francisco 49ers owner and CEO Jed York has called for a repeal of HB2, the North Carolina law that strips LGBT nondiscrimination protections and bans transgender people from restrooms that match their gender identity in government buildings.
NFL owners met in Charlotte this week to discuss rule changes and Super Bowl logistics. York spent time in Charlotte — whose own mayor, Jennifer Roberts, has denounced HB2 — meeting "with advocates and transgender North Carolinians and learn more about how this bill has negatively impacted them," according to a statement from Equality North Carolina, an LGBT advocacy group.
York made a $75,000 donation to Equality NC, which says it is "the state's biggest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender rights advocacy group."
In a statement, York spoke on behalf of the football franchise:
The San Francisco 49ers are deeply concerned about North Carolina's recently-enacted House Bill 2, which overturned protections for LGBT people and sanctioned discrimination across the state. HB 2 does not reflect the values of our organization, of our country, or the majority of North Carolinians.
We firmly believe that discriminatory laws such as HB 2 are bad for our employees, bad for our fans, and bad for business. We believe that HB 2 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation's best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country. It will also diminish the state's draw as a destination for sporting events, tourism and conventions, and new business activity.
Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country. As an organization that prides ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge Governor Pat McCrory and the leadership of North Carolina's legislature to repeal this law in the current legislative session.
Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro said:
"We at Equality North Carolina are so appreciative of the continued support of fair-minded organizations and people across the state, nation, and world, who are joining this call to action. Our heartfelt thanks are with Jed York and the San Francisco 49ers for their support and leadership at this critical time. It is clear that leaders at the General Assembly must act quickly to salvage our state's reputation."
The 49ers did not return an immediate request for additional comment, but York and the 49ers appear to have gone further publicly than the NFL and the Carolina Panthers with the call to repeal.
In April, the NFL said in a statement to ESPN that "we embrace diversity and inclusiveness in all of our policies" and that "the Panthers have made clear their position of non-discrimination and respect for all their fans. The city of Charlotte also has made clear its position."
At the time, there was debate over whether this week's owners meetings would be moved out of Charlotte.
An April statement from Panthers spokesperson Steven Drummond to ESPN said: "As the NFL noted, our organization has a long history of non-discrimination and treating all of our patrons at Bank of America Stadium with dignity and respect. Anyone who loves football and the Panthers is and will continue to be welcome at our stadium."
On Tuesday, Drummond told BuzzFeed News: "As we stated last summer, after 20 years of operations, we undoubtedly have had transgender persons attend events here and, presumably, they have used the restroom of the gender with which they identify. Our organization is against discrimination and has a long history of treating all of our patrons at Bank of America Stadium with dignity and respect."
The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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