A week after the Super Bowl in Houston, TX ended the National Football League has released a surprising and bold statement in defense of LGBTQ rights. The Hill reports the league has warned Texas legislators that so-called “bathroom bills” could modify their decisions on where sporting events will be held.
One such bill, Senate Bill 6, was introduced last month by Republican lawmakers. Over the weekend, the league issued a statement heavily implying that the bill and other pieces of legislation like it could affect whether they held future events in Texas cities.
Brian McCarthy is the spokesman for the NFL. In a statement, he told press that his organization was not interested in fostering divisiveness, and would not ignore legislative bigotry.
‘The NFL embraces inclusiveness. We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law [in Texas], that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.’
This year’s Super Bowl in Houston is the last one planned in Texas for quite a while, though. Future Super Bowls have been scheduled through 2021, and include the cities of Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and Minneapolis. So it remains to be seen whether the league’s qualified statement of resistance would really affect anything at all.
But if the nationwide response to North Carolina’s highly controversial HB2 law (upon which Senate Bill 6 was based) is any indication, Texas’s problems stemming from legislated bigotry won’t stop with an ineffectual statement by the NFL. After North Carolina passed HB2, several sports leagues such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, the NBA, and the NCAA, all decided to cancel or move events scheduled in-state. Several businesses decided to cancel plans to expand operations or move offices and production to North Carolina.
The NCAA has scheduled their annual men’s tournament to take place in San Antonio, TX for 2018. The league has yet to comment on how they will react should Senate Bill 6 pass.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and chief sponsor Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R) both believe that their bill has provisions that will address the concerns of the NFL, NCAA, and any other organization thinking to ditch the state should the law pass. In a statement emailed to press, Kolkhorst said:
‘I completely share the sentiments of the NFL. That’s why the Texas Privacy Act ensures that our state continues the same welcoming environment we all enjoy at NFL events.’
She also emphasized that the bill has a great deal of popular support by referencing a 2015 vote in Houston, repealing a law which would ensure that transgender people could use the restroom of their choice.
Nonetheless, SB 6 has some powerful and influential detractors. The state’s largest chamber of commerce, the Texas Association of Business, opposes the bill. They also estimated that Texas could lose up to $8 billion if it goes through, although that number assumed that the NFL would move the last Super Bowl out of state.
Featured image via Getty/Scott Halleran