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NASCAR keeping lower public profile in matter with North Carolina law

Food City 500 - Practice

BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 15: View of the NASCAR logo during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 15, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — While the NBA and NCAA have made public comments about North Carolina’s legislation that prevents local governments from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances, a NASCAR official said Sunday that the sanctioning body has no comment on that matter but noted its statement last year on a similar issue.

Last month, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill, which was in response to a Charlotte City Council ordinance that offered protection for transgender people who use public restrooms based on gender identity. After public criticism, he issued an executive order last week that seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination.

NASCAR’s response comes about a year after it issued a statement about diversity in relation to an Indiana law.

After Indiana passed a religious freedom law that critics said could allow businesses to refuse to serve gay and lesbian patrons, the NCAA, NBA and NASCAR voiced public support against the measure.

NASCAR’s statement from Brett Jewkes, then senior vice president and chief communications officer but has since left for another job, was:

“NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called North Carolina’s law “problematic for the league’’ and the NCAA has hinted at removing tournament games and competition from North Carolina if such a law remains.

The NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for next year in Charlotte. Six U.S. Senators recently wrote a letter to Silver asking him to pull the game because of the new legislation. The letter was signed by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

“I think we as a league are in the best position to effect change by working with the government, by working with the private sector,’’ Silver said in a press conference Friday after the league’s Board of Governors meeting. “I’ll say over the last few weeks, I’m not going to be specific, but I’ve talked to many people in government, outside of government in North Carolina, and the view is there is a constructive role for the NBA to play.’’

Among companies that have stated opposition to the new law are Facebook, Bank of America and Apple.

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