Hate is about to get expensive for Alabama. And this time it’s even more dumb than usual. On Friday, with barely a whisper, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law that would effectively ban transgender athletes from participating in public school sports.
Before it was even signed, major events were threatening to pull out of the state, costing the state and counties and cities millions in tax revenue and tourism.
The NCAA told states earlier this year that it would pull events from states that passed anti-transgender legislation, such as the bill Ivey signed on Friday. Privately, according to people with knowledge of the conversations, the NCAA also told key Alabama lawmakers that the association intended to carry through on its promise and that it could be a multi-year ban on events in Alabama.
The NCAA wasn’t the only one.
Officials from the World Games, which are set to be held in Birmingham in 2022 and could bring millions in revenue to the city, told both lawmakers prior to the legislature voting on the bill, and told Ivey’s office prior to her signing the bill, that its leadership team might force a move should the bill become law, according to two people familiar with the talks.
The sources told APR that the World Games might be forced to remain in Birmingham, due to logistical issues at this point, but that officials are currently examining the possibility of moving the games.
Do you hear that?
That’s the sound of millions of dollars being flushed away because of plain ol’ hatred and ignorance.
It’s also the sound of Alabama once again being held up in a national spotlight for ridicule and scorn.
And we deserve every bit of it, because you haven’t even heard the worst of it yet.
The law doesn’t even matter.
No, I’m not talking about the fact that the AHSAA has never once — not in its 100 years of existence — ever ruled on a transgender athlete issue. Not one ruling. Ever.
I’m also not talking about the fact that the law will almost certainly be successfully challenged in federal court, leaving the state with nothing but a hefty bill for lawyers. Again.
But none of that is what makes this law truly worthless.
It’s this: It’s not clear whether the legislature even has the authority to make this rule.
The AHSAA, as it is today — a private entity that governs high school athletics in this state using rules established by the member institutions and governed by a board of directors — was established by court order in 1968. If you’re at all familiar with Alabama’s history and the 1960s generally, you can probably guess why.
In the years following its establishment, the AHSAA has enjoyed extreme autonomy, with the Alabama Supreme Court essentially ruling that unless the association is committing fraud or ruling outside of its bounds, courts leave it alone. And that includes on issues in which the legislature has attempted to intervene.
There’s little question that if a school is trying to decide if it should follow the AHSAA’s rules — which requires a birth certificate to certify an athlete’s eligibility — or the legislature’s, the school is going with the AHSAA. And the courts will back them every time.
So, let’s recap briefly, shall we?
We have passed a hateful, ignorant law that seeks to procure the votes of stupid people in exchange of hurting at-risk children who already have one of the highest rates of suicide in the world.
That bill addresses a problem that doesn’t exist with a law that likely can’t be followed.
And as a result of all that stupid, we will lose a number of college sporting events, could lose an international event and stand to lose dozens of other events — all of it costing the state millions in tax revenue and billions in bad PR.
That, kids, is your Alabama GOP-led legislature at work.