CAT | Miscellaneous Stories
Over the past four months, Outsports, the popular blog cover the gay community in sports, has been publishing a list of the 100 most important moments in LGBT-sports history (dating back to the early 1970s).
Since becoming passionate about this subject myself only recently, I’ve spent the past 5 years or so catching up on this specific history. I try to read as many of the books and articles out there, but even still, there are events I’ve missed hearing about.
For anyone else interested in the topic, the list Outsports published is a tremendous way to catch up. Kudos to Cyd Zeigler and Jim Buzinski for the wonderful job they did compiling this list.
Here are the top 10 (you can see the complete list here):
1) Dave Kopay comes out / 1975 / football
2) Martina Navratilova comes out / 1981 / tennis
3) Billie Jean King outed / 1981 / tennis
4) Publication of ‘The Front Runner’ / 1974 / books
5) First Gay Games / 1982 / various sports
6) Corey Johnson’s story is told / 2000 / football
7) Billy Bean comes out / baseball / 1999
8) John Rocker spews homophobia to Sports Illustrated / 1999 / baseball
9) First gay softball world series / 1977 / softball
10) Matthew Mitcham wins diving gold / 2008 / diving
Beyond the top 10, here are some of the moments I like, find important, or otherwise feel like linking to you directly:
17) Brendan Burke passes away / 2010 / hockey
81) Brendan Burke comes out / 2009 / hockey
Burke’s coming out and subsequent passing has transformed the discussion of gay rights in hockey. Patrick, his brother and scout of the Philadelphia Flyer, and Brian, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, continue Brendan’s legacy by fighting for the LGBT community.
21) Tim Hardaway tells radio host, ‘I hate gay people’ / 2007 / basketball
This story is particularly noteworthy because of the growth of Hardaway who recently spoke in support of LGBT rights in El Paso, Texas.
39) ESPN hires LZ Granderson / 2004 / sports media
LZ continues to build of following for his outstanding writing with CNN and ESPN. His ability to comment on a wide variety of issues relating to society and sports is incredible, and accordingly, his visibility as an openly gay man is tremendous.
44) Kye Allums comes out / 2010 / college basketball
The inclusion of transgender participation is going to come even after the barrier is broken down for the community. Thus, the progress is Kye Allums playing (and the subsequent developments with the NCAA adopting formal guidelines for transgender athletes to compete) is incredible.
45) Hudson Taylor openly supports gay rights / 2010 / wrestling
Hudson is probably my favorite ally out there. Have you seen the work he does? I can’t think of a single straight athlete that has committed themselves so seriously to fighting for my rights, and for that, I am incredible thankful.
50) Rick Welts comes out / 2011 / NBA
The news that Rick Welts was hired by the Golden State Warriors signifies how far the sports world has come. That he is out, and had no problem finding a job, is outstanding.
78) NAGAAA sued over straight-athlete limit / 2010 / softball
I’ve already vocalized my opinion on this issue, so I’ll just link you to my thoughts on the matter if you’re interested.
There is nothing particularly noteworthy reported in Michael Arace’s piece in the Columbus Dispatch today titled, “Awareness of gays in sports still inadequate.”
If you follow this specific issue, or even sports generally, you already know about Joakim Noah and Kobe Bryant each getting caught using a homophobic slur, the story of Brendan and Brian Burke, and Rick Welts coming out. We’ve all seen the Jared Dudley and Grant Hill PSA.
But aside from it coming from my local paper, I pass it along here for that very reason: the discussion is being furthered at the local level too.
Columbus has no ties to the recent developments—mostly coming in the NBA—that Arace describes as having “mushroomed in the sports world.” Yet, the discussion is continuing at the local level here, and I assume elsewhere. I am grateful for that, because every day that people think and talk about it, the more progress we will have.
With a bit of criticism, I don’t think the body of Arace’s article really expounds on his title about the inadequacy of awareness of the issue. In fact, the telling of recent developments that have been so publicized undermines that idea.
The title is still true, of course. I just would have wished for more discussion on what he thought was inadequate.
Is it because we all know there are gay players just not who they are? Is it because when our local NHL and MLS teams host LGBT appreciation events, the goal appears to be more about selling tickets than promoting the community? Is it because society still harbors stereotypes of gay men being effeminate, lacking any sense of athleticism or masculinity?
Or maybe Arace is clairvoyant, knowing that the online comments to his piece would complete his point. There’s something about the anonymity on the Internet that brings the homophobes out of the woodwork.
I won’t post any here, but go check it out. As I write this, there are 17 comments and most are hateful, ignorant, and biblical. And for a bit of fun, the Dispatch has an interactive way to “judge” comments where you can mark all the hateful ones as “disagree,” “clueless,” and “mean.”
The long-awaited decision by Judge Susan Nelson in the case of Brady v. NFL in United States District Court for the District of Minnesota was just issued.
Judge Nelson ruled for the players, effectively blocking the lockout. Judge Nelson also did not issue a stay, meaning the injunction would go into effect immediately.
The NFL is expected to appeal the decision to not issue a stay tomorrow in the 8th Circuit.
Judge Nelson’s opinion is 89 pages and is available to download here: http://widerights.com/download/Brady_vs_NFL_D.C.Opinion.pdf
I’ll try to give a more thorough analysis of the ruling as soon as possible.
[Update and Analysis:]
If you’re interested in the juicy part of the opinion, as opposed to the portion resolving the issues of jurisdiction, skip ahead to page 68, Part B. “A Preliminary Injunction Under Rule 65 Is Necessary To Prevent The Irreparable Harm To the Players”.
The players sought to keep the NFL from locking them out. This sort of remedy is called an injunction.
In Section B, Judge Nelson writes, “A preliminary injunction ‘is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as a matter of right.’”
To get the injunction, the court would first consider two main factors: (1) the players had to show that they would risk “irreparable harm” without injunction and (2) that they have a chance of success on the merits.
Then, the court would also consider two additional factors prior to issuing the injunction: (3) the balance of the harm at issue and (4) how an injunction would harm other litigants and the public interest.
As to factor 1, Judge Nelson writes on page 71, “the Brady Plaintiffs have shown not only that they likely would suffer irreparable harm absent the preliminary injunction, but that they are in fact suffering such harm now.”
The NFL tried to argue that any damage the players are suffering is monetary, and thus, injunctive relief is an improper remedy. The court rejected those arguments. The court recognized that while much of the harm is financial at its core, “[t]he existence of irreparable injury is underscored by the undisputed brevity and precariousness of the players’ careers in professional sports, particularly in the NFL.”
The detail of finding “irreparable harm” in the NFL context is impressive in this case:
- The court recognized that lost playing time is a part of irreparable harm.
- The court also noted that due to the complexity of determine each individual player’s salary would lead to a nightmare in trying to accurately grant a financial remedy.
- The court recognized that the harm is particular whether the player is a free agent, rookie, or under-contract player, and especially those players that became restricted free agents when the NFL opted out of the collective bargaining agreement (when they would have been unrestricted otherwise).
As to factor 2, on page 80, Judge Nelson writes for the section header, “The Irreparable Harm To The Players Outweighs Any Harm An Injunction Would Cause the NFL.”
The league argued that the injunction would end up destroying the competitive balance of the NFL because the “most favorably suited teams” (aka the Cowboys) would be able to sign the best players. Judge Nelson rejects this argument as well.
Lastly, the Judge, on page 81, that the players have established a fair chance of success on the merits and, on page 87, that the public interest does not favor a lockout.
I love this bit by the Judge on the “public interest”:
“And, of course, the public interest represented by the fans of professional football–who have a strong investment in the 2011 season–is an intangible interest that weighs against the lockout.”
On March 12, the NFL announced the addition of two powerhouse attorneys, David Boies and Paul Clement, joining the legal team representing the league in the current dispute with the Player’s Association.
On March 14, I wrote about how the involvement of Boies was an interesting development, at least from the intersection of gay rights and the sports industry, because of Boies’ involvement with the Prop 8 case. I was especially intrigued by Boies essentially “flipping sides” from a political viewpoint and how the press often failed to mention his involvement in the Prop 8 when listing his credentials.
At that time, the involvement of Clements was non-newsworthy (from the perspective of gay rights and sports, at least). That has changed dramatically in the last week, especially with the big news today. I’ll explain.
On February 23, the Department of Justice, in a letter to Speaker of the House, John Boehner, announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. Expectedly, this infuriated the republicans, and on March 9, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG)—a House of Representatives committee of 3 republicans and 2 democrats—voted to have the House intervene to defend DOMA.
Then, and this is where the story starts to connect, on April 18, BLAG announced that Paul Clement of the firm King & Spaulding would serve as outside counsel for the House to defend DOMA.
Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly’s Poliglot wrote an excellent article documenting the reaction to this development.
Poliglot quoted a statement from Joe Solomonese of HRC: “The firm of King & Spalding has brought a shameful stain on its reputation in arguing for discrimination against loving, married couples. No amount of taxpayer money they rake in will mitigate this blemish on the King & Spalding name.”
King & Spalding came under fire for the decision—a decision viewed as hypocritical. King & Spalding was known as a firm that supported gay rights internally and externally. The firm had a 95 rating on the HRC index, was known to be supportive of openly gay attorneys, and regularly donated to gay organizations and events in Georgia.
King & Spalding decided to reverse course: they would not take the DOMA case.
Paul Clement, however, was in it for the long haul.
Today, Clement resigned from King & Spalding to join the firm Bancroft PLLC in intervening in the DOMA case.
In his letter of resignation, Clement cites to the ethical responsibilities of an attorney as the reason for the decision. And he insists the decision is not because of his views about DOMA.
He writes: “I resign out of the firmly-held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarter. Defending unpopular positions is what lawyers do.”
While that’s a fair and respectable position to take, of course, I do question whether that is the real reason. Clement was Solicitor General for 3 years under President Bush. He clerked for the ultra conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia. He went to a firm which has numerous ties to conservative politicians, judges, and businesses.
I think it’s fair to assume that he, personally, wants DOMA to remain an effective law in the United States.
Further, I also think he could have stayed in line with his firm’s decision not to defend DOMA and nobody would have challenged his commitment and understanding of the profession.
I do not know if Clement’s role with the NFL will be affected by leaving King & Spalding. I assume that he will stay on the case. And if true, the NFL case will now have lead outside counsel, of Clement and Boies, both on opposite ends of the marriage equality spectrum, and both involved in pivotal litigation on the issue.
David Boies and Ted Olson have been the lead counsel and the face of the trial challenging the validity of Proposition 8 in California. Due to their seemingly opposite political leanings, particularly highlighted by being direct opponents in Bush v. Gore in 2000, the pairing of the powerhouse attorneys has been a major headline of that case.
I’ve blogged several times about the Prop 8 case, especially during the initial trial stage while all the juicy facts were coming out. Currently, the case is on appeal focusing on a procedural issue of standing. Once that issue is resolved, the court(s) will move on to the substantive issues: whether Prop 8 was unlawfully discriminatory.
The interesting story this week, at least for the scope of this blog, is that Boies was hired to join the team of counsel representing the NFL in the antitrust litigation with the NFL Players Association, Brady vs. National Football League.
Without getting into all the merits and substance of the lockout and antitrust lawsuit, there are two sub-stories that I wanted to address (that will probably go unnoticed by the general media).
(1) Almost every news outlet excluded Boies’ current high-profile battle in the Prop 8 case when listing his credentials.
In the NFL’s press statement announcing the hiring of Boies they listed off some of his main credentials (I’ll add in (1), (2), and (3) so you can read it more easily):
(1) Last November, Boies won a $1.3 billion copyright infringement verdict for Oracle — the largest verdict of its kind in history.
(2) Boies is currently co-leading a landmark civil rights case involving the Constitutional protection of same-sex marriage.
(3) He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2010 and runner-up for Time‘s “Person of the Year” in 2000 for his work in Bush v. Gore — the year Boies was also named “Lawyer of the Year” by the National Law Journal.
I commend the NFL for listing his current, prolific legal credential working on the Prop 8 case in this announcement.
In contrast, I’m a little peeved that so many news outlets cut it out! And those that included it did a simple cut-and-paste job with the paragraph from the NFL’s statement. Admittedly, some of the news outlets had such short blurbs that you’d expect something to get cut, and further, that he is most well-known for the Bush v. Gore case and the context of the Oracle ruling may be more pertinent for interested readers. But still, sometimes it is these little forms of censoring that annoy me (and are detrimental to progress for the gay community).
A sample of what I’m talking about:
New York Times: Their piece was a bit longer – long enough to include both Bush v. Gore and the Oracle victory, but apparently the same-sex marriage credential wasn’t good enough.
Pro Football Weekly: They didn’t mention any of the 3 credentials, so I’ll give them a pass.
National Football Post: They copied the first two credentials verbatim from the NFL release, including the same-sex marriage bit. But then, in trying to cut down the qualifiers for the 3rd credential, they actually misapplied his “Lawyer of the Year” distinction as something that came from Time Magazine.
Pro Football Talk: We have a winner! PFT listed all 3 credentials, but did so in their own words. So, when they had an opportunity to cut out the same-sex marriage credential (and based on how they wrote, they really could have without interrupting the flow of the article), they left it in!
(2) In a way, Boies has “switched sides” in the way Olson is doing for the Prop 8 case.
I want to be careful here, because I, personally, do not agree that Olson “switched sides” by representing the gay plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case. As he so eloquently wrote in an article titled, “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage,” for Newsweek, “same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize.”
However, Olson also recognized that “fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage,” and in that respect, I’m sure many conservatives think he has “switched sides.”
Similarly, one could argue that Boies has done the same. Traditionally, for labor disputes, the conservatives/republicans side with the employer or management and liberals/democrats side with employees. (If you need more evidence of this, just look to the current state of labor disputes ushered in by the republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio.)
I am not sure if Boies will catch any flack for this from the liberal base, but I wanted to at least share the observation.
[EDIT:] I just read Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback for this week and he agrees with the “switching sides” analysis:
The plain-spoken and deep-thinking Boies is, in the words of one veteran sports executive, “about as liberal as George McGovern, and who’d have ever thought the NFL would hire someone like that?”
Boies worked for Al Gore in trying to get his close loss to George Bush in the 2000 election overturned. He won a case in California seeking to overturns the state’s ban on gay marriage. He’s a big supporter of Teach for America, which urges some of the smartest college graduates in the country to give their first two post-grad years to teaching in underprivileged school districts. He represented far, far left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore in a Treasury Department investigation into Moore’s travel to Cuba in the health-care-industry-ravaging movie Sicko.’ And he was of a team of lawyers representing Jamie McCourt in her high-profile divorce from Frank McCourt.