The NAACP on Thursday called on members of the NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL and MLB to consider not signing with teams in Texas as a protest against several controversial laws passed recently in the state.
In the two-page letter given first to ABC News, the NAACP took jabs at state lawmakers, calling the state "a blueprint by legislators to violate constitutional rights for all, especially for women, children and marginalized communities." The NAACP noted the state's controversial laws on abortion, voting rights and coronavirus mask mandates as reasons for free agents not to sign with Texas teams.
"As we watch an incomprehensible assault on basic human rights unfold in Texas, we are simultaneously witnessing a threat to constitutional guarantees for women, children and marginalized communities," NAACP National President Derrick Johnson and NAACP Texas State Conference President Gary Bledsoe wrote in the letter. "Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman's freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and Brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus."
"If you are a woman, avoid Texas. If you are Black, avoid Texas," the letter continued. "If you want to lower your chances of dying from coronavirus, avoid Texas."
Texas' SB8, the strictest anti-abortion law in the country, has caused protests nationwide and a current legal fight between the state and Department of Justice. The law bans abortions after a so-called fetal heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy and often before a person knows they are pregnant.
Republicans in the state also spent months trying to overhaul the voting system in the state, even though Democrats say the new rules will make it harder for minority voters to take part in elections. Although there was no evidence of widespread fraud in Texas following the 2020 election, Republicans claim they are seeking to restore voter confidence in the state's elections.
Gov. Greg Abbott, the only politician who is mentioned by name in the NAACP's letter, has also been a vociferous opponent of mask and vaccine mandates to fight COVID-19.
There are nine Texas teams playing the leagues mentioned by the NAACP: the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets; the NHL's Dallas Stars; the WNBA's Dallas Wings; MLB's Texas Rangers and Houston Astros; and the NFL's Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys.
With the NHL, NFL and NBA seasons less than halfway over, the leagues won't welcome free agency until well into 2022. MLB free agency begins five days after the end of the World Series, where the Astros are currently playing.
The letter comes just a few months after MLB took a stand against Georgia's voting overhaul this past baseball season when it moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest.
The civil rights group is calling on athletes to "seek employment with sports teams located in states that will protect, honor and serve your families with integrity."
The group added, "Until the legislation is overturned, Texas isn't safe for anyone."