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NFL awards 3 Super Bowls to states that don't have anti-LGBT 'religious freedom' laws

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Atlanta gets one weeks after Georgia governor vetoed a bill out of fear of hurting business.

The Super Bowl trophy
The Super Bowl trophy
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL today awarded Super Bowls in 2019, 2020 and 2021 to Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles respectively. None of the three states where these cities are located have draconian "bathroom bills" or anti-LGBT religious freedom laws like the ones passed in North Carolina and Mississippi. It's no coincidence.

In March, the NFL said if Georgia passed an anti-LGBT law, Atlanta might not get another Super Bowl. "NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard," spokesman Brian McCarthy said at the time. "Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites."

Gov. Nathan Deal later vetoed such a bill passed by the Georgia legislature. While he did not mention the Super Bowl or business interests in his veto, it was clear that pressure from the likes of the NFL, Disney, Apple, Salesforce and many other companies played a role. Had Deal signed the bill, and given the backlash to HB2 in North Carolina, it would have been very difficult for the NFL to justify awarding Atlanta a Super Bowl.

A push to pass an anti-LGBT "religious freedom" law has not gained traction in Florida. The state did pass a bill that shields religious entities and individuals from lawsuits if they don't perform same-sex weddings. It's a totally nonsensical bill since no same-sex couple has ever tried to force a pastor or church to marry them. As for California, it has maybe the most LGBT-friendly laws in the country.

Sports league need to continue to make clear that they will not award any championships to states with such laws. The NBA will pull its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if North Carolina's law is not voided, either by the legislature (highly unlikely) or the courts (likely). The NCAA still has time to yank 2017 NCAA basketball regionals from North Carolina. No state should be rewarded for legislating bigotry.