The college sports association helped pioneer one of the left’s most common pro-gay battle tactics.
The Battle of Indiana is long over, and the time for the victors to hand out the service medals is long overdue.
Lambda Legal, a gay advocacy group and one of the key players in the firestorm over Indiana’s proposed religious freedom law last year (and over a different version of it earlier this year), announced Tuesday that it would be awarding the NCAA for its “leadership” on the issue at its annual benefit in the state.
“The NCAA national office was vocal surrounding Indiana SB 101, termed the ‘religious freedom’ bill, as well as similar bills introduced earlier this year that unfairly targeted our communities,” reads a press release from the organization, announcing that it would be giving the sports association its “2016 Corporate Leadership Award.”
For those who may not remember, the NCAA was just one of a small army of organizations and businesses that descended on the Hoosier State in the 2015 spring after the state legislature passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The proposed statute, SB 101, was nothing more than a state-level version of the 1993 RFRA, which gives legal recourse to people who believe that the government has violated their First Amendment rights. Over 20 states have had these law on their books for years — a fact often overlooked whenever the gay lobby takes issue with a state considering a new one.
Claiming that it would “legalize discrimination,” a band of organizations, public figures and private businesses put the screws to Gov. Mike Pence to ensure a veto on SB 101. When the dust settled, the original bill was scrapped in favor of a weakened version that actually gave legal recourse for gay individuals to sue Christian business owners if they felt discriminated against.
The NCAA played a key role in the midst of the firestorm, threatening to pull the annual Final Four basketball tournament in Indianapolis for all future events. The NCAA stated it would “work diligently” to ensure nobody at the tournament would be “impacted negatively” by the proposed law.
Just a few days later, the sporting association came out in favor of the amended RFRA and the momentous tournament went along as planned. Indiana ended up with a gutted RFRA containing questionable “anti-discrimination provisions,” and the anti-First Amendment cultural cronies obtained a strongly effective strategy for all future battles.
Enlisting the aid of sports organizations also proved to be an effective tool for the LGBT lobby in the political and cultural fight against religious freedom policies elsewhere. In Georgia, the NFL (as well as other cultural cronies like Disney’s Marvel Studios) convinced Gov. Nathan Deal to veto a nearly-toothless version of Indiana’s proposed law in March.
One place where that tactic is currently failing, however, is the state of North Carolina. Since April, Gov. Pat McCrory’s Republican administration and the state’s controversial HB2 “bathroom bill” has withstood threats from the NCAA, a reticent boycott from the PGA of America, the departure of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game — which was moved to another state with a RFRA, by the way (consistency for the win) — and canceled basketball games at Duke and UNC Chapel Hill. McCrory’s office called the NBA’s decision “another classic case of politically-correct hypocrisy gone mad,” in a statement issued late last week.
While Lambda Legal is handing out awards for the pioneers of its new battle plan, the future of North Carolina’s HB2 will show whether conservatives can effectively withstand it — or whether state-level shakedowns are going to be the new normal.