ATLANTA (AP) - Atlanta city leaders asked the NBA on Tuesday to consider moving the 2017 All-Star Game their way from Charlotte after North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation criticized as limiting protections for LGBT people.
Atlanta's City Council introduced a resolution at a meeting asking the NBA to consider Atlanta after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law critics called discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
The North Carolina law prevents Charlotte and other local governments from approving LGBT protections in such places as restaurants, hotels and stores. That state's Republican-led Legislature said Charlotte city leaders went too far with a local anti-discrimination ordinance that, among other things, would have allowed transgender people to use restrooms that align with their gender identity.
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A statement from Atlanta City Council President Caesar Mitchell said his city has a welcoming spirit as a top tourist and convention draw and home to several Fortune 500 companies.
In part, the statement read:
"The City of Atlanta draws strength from our diverse community. This unity creates our city's embracing spirit, a quality that has made Atlanta the destination of choice for numerous international business conventions, professional and college sporting events, as well as one of the largest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies in the nation. We would certainly welcome the opportunity to show that very spirit as the host of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend."
McCrory shot back at Atlanta city leaders Tuesday night, pointing out that North Carolina isn't the only state to pursue such legislation.
"Thankfully no college team from Georgia made the Final Four again this year. Otherwise, the Atlanta City Council would have to boycott the City of Houston where voters overwhelmingly rejected a bathroom ordinance that was nearly identical to the one rejected by State of North Carolina," said an emailed statement from McCrory communications director Josh Ellis.
The NBA seems hopeful things will work out.
"We appreciate the invitation but are hopeful that the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina can work through their differences far in advance of the 2017 All-Star Game," NBA spokesman Mike Bass responded in a statement.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday vetoed proposed legislation that critics called discriminatory toward LGBT people. The nixed legislation would have let clergy refuse to marry same-sex couples and religious affiliated groups could have used religious beliefs as a basis to refuse service or decline a hiring.
Charlotte tourism and convention officials are concerned about backlash such as potential event cancellations, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray said.
"This issue is in danger of setting us back from the progress we've made in positioning Charlotte as an attractive, inclusive destination," Murray's statement said, urging leaders to find a resolution in "the best interests of our city and state."
However, his organization also put out a statement Tuesday saying "we're incredibly proud to be the host destination of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game and also quite proud of the strong relationship we've forged with the NBA over the years. We are aware of the NBA's concerns and are working hard to ensure we can continue to have a successful event in Charlotte."
Information from WSOC was used in this report.
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