By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) – North Carolina lawmakers adjourned for the year on Friday night after leaving mostly intact a law restricting transgender bathroom access that has drawn condemnation and jeopardized the state’s efforts to host the NBA All-Star Game, officials said.
The law passed in March made North Carolina the first U.S. state to require transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings and schools that match the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.
The National Basketball Association has said it could move its All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and has cited concerns over the law’s effects on principles of inclusion and equal protection that league officials say they uphold.
A spokesman for the NBA could not immediately be reached for comment.
North Carolina state Representative Chris Sgro, a Democrat who opposes the law, which is known as House Bill 2, said he had hoped lawmakers would vote on Friday on whether to repeal it. But they adjourned for the year without holding that vote, he said.
“It probably means that we’re going to have to come back for a special session because we’re going to lose the All-Star Game if we don’t,” Sgro, who is executive director of the gay rights group Equality North Carolina, said in a phone interview.
The NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for February 2017.
President Barack Obama, business leaders, entertainers and some prominent politicians have criticized House Bill 2, saying it is unfair to transgender people.
State lawmakers on Friday addressed one point of controversy over House Bill 2 by restoring the right to sue for wrongful termination in state court on allegations of discrimination based on age, sex, race or other factors, officials said.
House Bill 2 had removed that right and required such suits to be filed in federal court.
The office of Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican, said in a statement the change addressed concerns from the state’s governor and others.
But Berger expressed continued support for House Bill 2.
“Protecting the safety and privacy of North Carolina families by keeping grown men out of bathrooms, shower facilities and changing rooms with women and young girls has always been our primary objective,” Berger said in a statement.
On Thursday, an NBA statement said no final decision had yet been made regarding the All-Star Game.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Nick Macfie)