Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

NFL’s 49ers donate $75K toward repealing anti-LGBT North Carolina law

49ers owner Jed York

49ers owner Jed York

The Santa Clara-based 49ers football team has donated $75,000 toward the effort to repeal North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2.

Jed York, the Bay Area team’s chief executive officer, announced the donation to the Equality North Carolina Foundation late Monday, May 23 while in Charlotte, North Carolina to attend the NFL owners’ quarterly meeting, which had been scheduled 18 months ago prior to the passage of the discriminatory law.

In a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter, York said he wanted to do something to assist with the local efforts to repeal HB 2 while in town. The law not only bans local cities in the state from adopting non-discrimination laws, and repealed one adopted by Charlotte, it also requires transgender individuals to use public restrooms based on the gender assigned to them at birth.

The adoption of the law earlier this year has led to cities and states across the country to ban taxpayer-funded travel to North Carolina, businesses to cancel expanding in the state, and numerous entertainers to boycott performing in the Tar Heel State.

“I certainly understand why the meeting wasn’t changed. But I didn’t want to come here and not, at least, let my opinion be heard and make sure the folks fighting HB 2 on the ground had the resources to continue their fight to repeal HB 2,” said York.

Matt Hirschy, director of advancement at Equality N.C., told the B.A.R. the 49ers’ donation is one of the single largest donations the group has ever received. In 2014 it had revenues of a little more than $369,000, according to its most recent tax filings, while it posted a deficit of $52,220 that year.

“It is certainly something we are extremely humbled by and grateful for. It is an unprecedented gift for us,” said Hirschy. “I am a bit speechless frankly.”

The money will be used to continue the group’s education campaign about the need for state lawmakers to pass protections for LGBT North Carolinians, especially trans residents of the state, said Hirschy.

The U.S. Justice Department plans to sue North Carolina in federal court over the passage of HB 2, which it says violates laws banning sex-based discrimination. North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, plans to countersue the federal government in an attempt to have HB 2 be deemed valid.

The Charlotte City Council pulled from its agenda Monday night a compromise proposal that would have seen it rescind its non-discrimination law in the hope of seeing state lawmakers then amend HB 2. But LGBT advocates, as well as the city’s mayor, had been pressuring the city leaders to keep their law in place.

Monday night York was scheduled to meet with local parents who have transgender children as well as transgender adults at a private dinner in Charlotte organized by local LGBT advocates.

He and his family have long contributed to LGBT causes in San Francisco. His parents, Denise DeBartolo York and John York, donated $3,500 toward the effort in 2008 to defeat Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in California that voters narrowly passed that November.

He first reached out to Equality N.C. in late April ahead of his trip through gay former San Francisco supervisor Bevan Dufty. When he was in office, Dufty several times brought the Yorks out to gay bars in the Castro, which he represented at City Hall.

“We sat down and talked about how to have an impact on HB 2,” said Dufty, who accompanied Jed York to Charlotte.

Dufty approached Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which has an initiative focused on equality in sports and has received funding from the 49ers. She put Dufty in touch with Chris Sgro, the executive director of Equality N.C. who was appointed to fill a vacant state house seat last month.

Being the parent of a “gender-expansive child,” noted Dufty, the issue is a “very personal” one for him.

“I can’t imagine living in a state with a law like that,” he added.

Although he does not have any close relatives who are transgender, Jed York said he was struck by the interview 60 Minutes recently aired with Harvard University’s Schuyler Bailar, who was accepted onto the Ivy League school’s women’s swim team but then joined the men’s team after deciding to transition to being male.

“His story really stuck with me. I admire Schuyler‘s courage,” said York. “This issue if you don’t know enough about it, if you don’t have a trans family member or friend you are close to, it seems strange. The more we can do to let people know there are people like Schuyler out there, really human individuals who have a difficult time figuring out who they are and want to be, I don’t think we will see discriminatory laws like HB 2 in place.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 23, 2016 @ 5:05 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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