23 Wake Forest J. Bus. & Intell. Prop. L. 227
In 2016, the North Carolina state legislature passed a bill titled House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, an act which banned legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and required citizens to use the bathroom corresponding with their assigned gender on their birth certificate in public places. Commonly referred to as HB2, the bill passed in a one-day special session by the Republican-controlled supermajority, with the state House passing the bill 82-26 and the state Senate unanimously. The bill was signed into law by the popular then- Governor, Pat McCrory. In its aftermath, however, public opinion turned against the bill. In fact, public opinion turned so much that the National Basketball Association ("NBA") canceled its plans to have its All-Star festivities in the Tar heel State. Instead, over objections to the bill and the failure of the legislature and Governor to heed to public pressure, the NBA moved the game to New Orleans, taking the economic benefits of the All-Star game with it, a move estimated to cost North Carolina many jobs and more than $3 billion in economic impact.
The response by the NBA to HB2 is not the first of its kind and has not been the last. Years before, companies got involved in social issues by taking stances to support racial integration by integrating workforces; marriage equality by providing employees with a gay gross-up tax payment; and gun safety by limiting access to high-capacity assault rifles. And HB2 wasn’t the last either. As just one example, in 2022, Disney spoke out against Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, which limits discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools and was dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents. In response, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican controlled state legislature took aim at Disney, revoking a 1960s grant of authority to Disney’s Reedy Creek self-governing status, which allowed Disney to build its own roads and infrastructure without local municipality approval.