GREENSBORO — Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford says he’s encouraged that North Carolina lawmakers have filed bipartisan legislation to repeal a law that limits protections for LGBT people.
The bill, filed last week, has as one of its primary sponsors state Rep. Ken Goodman, whose District 66 includes part of Robeson County. Goodman, a Democrat, told The Robesonian he knows the bill is politically “risky” for him, but said something has to be done to stop the damage he says the law is causing to North Carolina’s image and economy.
The ACC and the NCAA pulled sporting events out of the state last fall in response to the so-called bathroom bill, which also requires transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates.
The plan to repeal House Bill 2 was filed Wednesday, though some gay rights groups and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper — who prefers a simple repeal — have criticized add-ons to the proposal.
“It’s encouraging that a bipartisan effort has been initiated in the North Carolina General Assembly regarding HB2,” Swofford said in a statement Saturday. “If legislation is passed that resets the law as it was prior to HB2, it will present the opportunity to reopen the discussion with the ACC Council of Presidents regarding neutral site conference championships being in the state of North Carolina.
“The ACC is pleased the legislature is dedicated to resolving this important issue.”
The ACC pulled its football championship game and several neutral-site events from the state last fall. That came shortly after the NCAA pulled opening weekend men’s basketball tournament games and other championship events from the state. The NBA also moved this year’s All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans.
Attempts at a resolution in the legislature have mounted amid worries the NCAA would soon remove from consideration local bids to host events through 2022.
All of Robeson County’s House representatives last year voted in support of HB2, and Goodman said last week he regrets that vote. Reps. Charles Graham and Garland Pierce, Democrats who also represent part of Robeson County, last week didn’t want to comment on the proposed bill, saying they had not read it. Graham did say his primary concern is to make sure women and children are safe when they go to public restrooms.
The other members of the local legislation, Sen. Danny Britt and Rep. Brenden Jones, both Republicans, could not be reached. They are freshman in the legislature and did not vote on the legislation.