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Duke boycott scores point for civil rights

Duke boycott scores point for civil rights

Standing up for principles is bigger than a sporting event

Sometimes, there are a lot more important things than sports.

And one of them is standing up for people's rights.

So while it's disappointing that UAlbany's basketball team won't get the privilege of playing Duke University in a non-conference basketball game in November, the principle at stake more than makes up for it.

The decision not to send the state college's team to North Carolina stems from a decision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to prohibit all non-essential government travel to the Tar Heel State in response to an anti-transgender measure adopted by its government.

SUNY supported and continues to support Cuomo’s decision.

In late March, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed an executive order preventing local governments from protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public places.

The law also stated that transgender people would have to use multi-stall bathrooms that match their birth certificates in state buildings and universities.

Not only did the executive order represent outright discrimination against transgender adults and children, it also prevented local communities and school districts that didn't want to discriminate against those individuals from doing so.

So our governor, in protest, effectively stopped all non-essential business with North Carolina until or unless the executive order was lifted. So far, it remains in place.

Cuomo hasn't been alone in his protests. In fact, the decision is costing North Carolina tens of millions of dollars in lost business from tourism, entertainment, government and conventions, as everyone from rock stars to basketball teams to other state and city governments have refused to do business with North Carolina over the ban.

The U.S. Department of Justice also said the ban violated civil rights law.

The NBA All-Star Game, scheduled to be played in Charlotte, N.C., in February, might soon be the newest casualty of the transgender ban. Basketball legend Michael Jordan is owner of the Charlotte NBA team and has come out strongly against the policy.

The transgender bathroom issue is based on irrational fears, and the discrimination against LGBT individuals is no more acceptable than discrimination against other people because of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identification.

They're people. They're American citizens. And according to our Constitution, they are entitled to the same rights as everyone else.

So yes, it's disappointing that the UAlbany basketball team isn't going to get to play the famous Duke Blue Devils. We're sure players, coaches and fans were looking forward to the opportunity.

But when it comes down to a matter of a sporting event vs. the larger issue of discrimination, the only disappointment would have been if our state didn't stand up against it.

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