When North Carolina passed House Bill 2, otherwise known as HB2 or the “bathroom bill,” Sen. Jeff Merkley went to work. Though he’s a senator from Oregon, with seemingly little local influence in North Carolina, Merkley looked swiftly at what kinds of financial pressures could be applied to North Carolina — beyond the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Adam Levine cancelling their concerts in the state. Merkley found the National Basketball Association, a forward thinking growth organization that was slated to host its NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte in 2017. Merkley drafted a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver urging the NBA to move All-Star Weekend in reaction to the bill. He got former NBA players like Charles Barkley to support it, along with other lawmakers. That was in April.
At the Democratic National Convention, Merkley will address the crowd on opening night less than a week after the NBA announced it would move the All-Star Game out of Charlotte for 2017 — no doubt assisted by pressure from Merkley’s efforts. The full text of Merkley’s letter is here. Merkley