Protest against N.C. discrimination is no match for baseball

Some kids who played baseball in Minnesota could have learned a valuable real-life lesson this month: Standing up for values requires personal sacrifice.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s ban on non-essential travel to North Carolina because of that state’s legislation limiting official protections for gays, lesbians, and transgender people was, from the start, more theater than substance. The governor’s office either couldn’t or wouldn’t reveal how much travel state employees are required to make to North Carolina.

And it was always unlikely to have any real impact on North Carolina’s economy. And nobody expected North Caroline to cower in the face of Minnesota’s stern look. It was merely a statement of Minnesota’s values in opposition to discrimination. Period.

“That law blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to grant protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women and men. It violates the values and the laws of our great state. In my view, it is destructive to the progress we have made to provide equal rights and protections to our LGBT community,” Gov. Dayton said in his letter announcing the travel ban.

Agree or disagree (Republicans disagreed, sending a letter of support to North Carolina lawmakers), it’s a principled stand.

Usually such stands survive the first puff of wind against them.

That breeze came from baseball players.

Gov. Dayton declared the travel ban would remain in place “until the North Carolina Governor and state Legislature repeal the discriminatory law they enacted.”

“While we understand that some players may be disappointed, no sports team from any of our colleges or universities will participate in tournaments in North Carolina this spring,” MnSCU communications director Doug Anderson told the Pioneer Press on Tuesday, after MnSCU officials stood behind Dayton’s ban.

“I support the opposition to the laws that were passed there,” Century College coach Dwight Kotila told the paper. It’s not human what they’re doing. On the other hand, I have to look out for my student-athletes, too. Is this fair for them to be used to make a statement?”

After a day, the ban fell.

The Minnesota State College and University System yesterday dropped the ban after baseball coaches complained that it could prevent the fellas from participating in baseball tournaments in North Carolina.

MnSCU’s statement said the ban isn’t needed now:

On April 2, citing opposition to discriminatory legislation passed in North Carolina, Governor Dayton directed that all employees of Minnesota state agencies refrain from nonessential business travel to the state. On May 2, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities presidents implemented a similar travel ban for our state colleges and universities. On May 4, the U.S. Justice Department notified North Carolina that the legislation in question, House Bill 2, violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and ordered the state to remedy the violation by not enforcing the law.

In light of the intervention from the U.S. Justice Department, the presidents of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are confident that the deplorable discrimination embedded in North Carolina’s legislation is being addressed. Therefore, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have lifted their ban on travel to North Carolina.

The federal government notified North Carolina that the law violates civil rights, giving the state until Monday to fix it.

Whether North Carolina will is unclear but MnSCU has decided it’s a good time to remove whatever little pressure it exerted on the state.

Why not wait until the law falls?


The Division II baseball World Series will be held May 28-June 4 in Cary, North Carolina. St. Cloud State has a shot at being in it.

St. Cloud Technical & Community College, a Division III school is ranked eighth in the nation and could be in the Division III baseball World Series in Kinston, North Carolina.

“It would have been very unfortunate for whatever group of seniors this might have affected,” St. Cloud State baseball coach Pat Dolan tells the St. Cloud Times.

“I told the guys afterwards that losing games and facing tough situations is why athletes go on and are successful in life,” he said. “There’s a lot of adversity that you’re going to go through. This gets you prepared for the real world.”

Having earlier declared the ban would stick until the law was repealed, the governor is now considering dropping the ban too, according to a spokesman.

In the real world, sports carries a big stick.

More baseball: Now Starting for the Sonoma Stompers: We picked Sean Conroy off a spreadsheet. We didn’t realize he’d be the first openly gay player in pro baseball history (Slate).