About 200 people who had registered to run Ironman triathalons in North Carolina this year have transferred to races in other states after the sport said they could make the switch due to North Carolina’s controversial LGBT law, organizers said.
Ironman, the Tampa, Fla.-based sports organization, had given registrants until May 9 to request a transfer to another North American race being held this year.
“As many of you are aware, the state of North Carolina recently approved a bill that has raised the concerns of many, including us at Ironman,” the organization said in an email to registrants. “While we plan to move forward with our races in Raleigh and Wilmington, we recognize that some of you may no longer wish to race in North Carolina.”
The Ironman races taking place in North Carolina this year are the Ironman 70.3 Raleigh, the Ironman 70.3 North Carolina (Wilmington) and the Ironman North Carolina (Wilmington). The Raleigh race has 2,200 registrants and the Wilmington races have about 2,900, the organization said.
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“Ironman is an all-inclusive sport and we will continue to always provide an arena for all individuals to pursue their goals and dreams of becoming an Ironman,” the organization said in the email.
Not everyone making the switch, however, may have done so because of the LGBT law, known as House Bill 2.
A registrant who moved to California from Georgia for a job posted this message on Slowtwitch.com, a popular message board for triathletes: “I’m thinking of taking advantage of this opportunity to transfer to Santa Cruz 70.3 to avoid the hassle of having to travel cross country, time zones and also save some dough. So... thanks North Carolina legislature?”
HB2 sets a statewide class of nondiscrimination that does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. It also requires people in government facilities to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate. The bill, which overturned a Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance, was signed into law March 23.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department sent state leaders a letter saying that HB2 violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. Those laws ban employment discrimination and discrimination in education based on sex.
The following week, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders filed their own lawsuits contesting the order. And Attorney General Loretta Lynch filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to put House Bill 2 on hold until the matter is resolved in court.
A number of major businesses have come out against the law, including Bank of America, Lowe’s and American Airlines. PayPal scrapped an expansion in Charlotte, musicians have canceled concerts and conventions have pulled out of the state.
McCrory has defended the law and accused the federal government of overreaching into state affairs.
“The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set basic restroom policies, locker room policies, and even shower policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina,” McCrory has said.