The NFL explored moving the 2015 Super Bowl from Arizona when a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse to serve LGBT customers reached the desk of the governor, who vetoed it. A similar measure came under fire in Indiana, with the NCAA and NBA leading the way along with national companies. In Texas, that has not happened. Indeed, on Wednesday, the NFL reiterated that it would not be moving the game from Texas.
“This will not affect our plans for Super Bowl LI in 2017,” NFL spokesman said in an email to The Post. “We will work closely with the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee to make sure all fans feel welcomed at our events. Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.”
The Super Bowl Host Committee echoed the NFL, with the group’s counsel and communications director Amanda Weeks writing in an email to The Post that it “is working with the NFL to provide an inclusive environment for all fans visiting Houston for Super Bowl LI and its surrounding events. We echo the NFL’s policies that emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.”
In a Houston referendum, voters rejected the ordinance, which would have barred discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, race and other considerations, by a 22-percent margin. The city council had initially passed the ordinance, but opponents successfully portrayed it as allowing male sexual predators to enter women’s restrooms.
Griffin cited that campaign in his letter. “Unfortunately, a particularly vicious ad campaign that attacked and spread lies about LGBT people in the weeks leading up to Election Day resulted in the repeal of these vital nondiscrimination protections,” he wrote. “As a result, Houston is now the only major city in the nation without nondiscrimination protections. It is also the largest city in Texas without such a measure; Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Fort Worth all have nondiscrimination protections like this on the books. Moreover, because the state of Texas lacks explicit protections against discrimination for many of these very same minorities, the repeal of HERO was a tremendous setback for fairness, justice, and equality throughout the region.”
Pressure in Arizona and Indiana came first from the business community, with sports leagues then following suit. Already the city’s mayor has warned about an economic impact.
“I fear that this will have stained Houston’s reputation as a tolerant, welcoming, global city,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker said on Tuesday. “I absolutely fear that there will be a direct economic backlash as a result of this ordinance going into defeat and that’s sad for Houston.”