National Football League more forceful on Texas bathroom bill after Super Bowl

Feb 12, 2017, 00:44
National Football League more forceful on Texas bathroom bill after Super Bowl

With Houston drawing huge attention and revenues from hosting Super Bowl 51 last weekend, the impact of losing any hope of another host role either there or in Dallas, which hosted the 2011 Super Bowl, could be devastating.

In January, Texas legislators released a bill stating that all citizens of the state are required to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, similar to a bill passed in North Carolina previous year and a bill filed in the Tennessee General Assembly in 2017.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said any laws that go against the league's values will be a factor in determining where to play the championship game.

Lawmakers in Texas and 13 other states now have introduced so-called "bathroom bills", which supporters say help protect privacy and safety but opponents argue target an already marginalized group in US society.

"This legislation will needlessly jeopardize jobs, investment, innovation and tax revenue for our state, and it sullies our reputation as an open, inclusive and welcoming state", Texas Association of Business President Chris Wallace said in a statement in January.

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A similar bill in North Carolina prompted next week's NBA All-Star Game to be moved by the league from Charlotte to New Orleans.

It is not clear whether or not a bill like this will affect other sporting events in the future. While estimates vary, the Super Bowl could be worth anywhere from "a couple hundred million to almost $800 million", PJ Johnston, an National Football League spokesman for Super Bowl 50, told CNBC a year ago.

"The NFL embraces inclusiveness", Mr. McCarthy said. As private venues, the sports stadiums can set their own rules, according to Alejandro Garcia, a spokesman for the lieutenant governor. Dan Patrick pointed to that exemption in saying there is "no conflict" with Senate Bill 6.

As an example, Houston's NRG Stadium is owned by Harris County, and the City of Arlington owns AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. More than two decades ago, Arizona lost a Super Bowl after the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King Day as an official state holiday. This kind of controversy isn't unusual at the start of the legislative session, former Texas lawmaker Sherri Greenberg, a Democrat, previously told The Christian Science Monitor - and not much ever comes of it.