TAG | HRC
Michael Strahan, former Super Bowl Champion of the New York Giants and current NFL analyst for Fox’s NFL Sunday, and his wife Nicole Murphy support marriage equality.
The couple delivered this message:
MS: “I’m Michael Strahan.”
NM: “I’m Nicole Murphy. And we are New Yorkers for marriage equality.”
MS: “As a defensive end for the New York Giants, I always played the game tough but fair. And I feel it’s unfair to stop committed couples from getting married.”
NM: “Please join us and support marriage equality for all New Yorkers.”
MS: “We believe everyone should have the right to get married…”
NM: “… just as we do.”
Please follow Michael Strahan on Twitter (@michaelstrahan) where he is already defending himself for making this video.
One of his followers (@saltman129) attacked his decision, Tweeting hateful, ignorant remarks in a string:
 @michaelstrahan How could you post a video depicting “marriage equality?” Do you even understand what you are promoting; what you are…  potentially helping to destroy? It’s unfortunate, that because you are a well-known athlete, folks are going to be  influenced by your words (oh the halo effect never fails). Please seriously think about what you are doing when voicing  your opinions such an important issue as marriage!  As much as you say this is your opinion; it’s about an objective truth that we are talking about…something God has made
To which Strahan—who’s Twitter bio line is, “If you have a life you dont have time to hate!!”—responded: @saltman129 You have ur opinion and I have mine!! I’m my own man so what I support is important to me. I respect ur opinion but mine differs
Only in this wild year for gay news in the sports world (Outsports has reported 27 coming out stories already!) would we have three noteworthy events, all from the NBA, in a single day.
First, the bad.
Last night, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah lashed out at a heckling fan, video below, with a slew of expletives and the same antigay slur that Kobe yelled out just over a month ago.
He then offered this “apology”:
“I got caught up. A fan said something and I said something back. I apologize.”
When asked if he would expect to be fined—Kobe was fined $100,000 for the same slur directed at a referee—Noah responded, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but, you know, I got caught up. I don’t mean no disrespect to anybody. I just got caught up.”
[EDIT:] Noah offered these additional remarks today, saying basically the same thing: “With the comment to the fan, I just want to apologize about that,” he said. “I just picked up my second foul. I was frustrated. He said something that was disrespectful towards me and I lost my cool. People who know me know I’m an open-minded guy. I’m not here to hurt anybody’s feelings. I’m just here to help win a basketball game.”
I’m really getting tired of the “I just got caught up in the moment” and “I meant no disrespect” excuse in these apologies. Pick a different word, or don’t say anything at all. It’s as simple as that.
Thankfully, there is more good than bad these days.
Just a couple hours after Noah’s outburst, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard tweeted: “Heyy world plz check out this new ad featuring @JaredDudley619 and @realgranthill33 with @GLSEN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-kwMPVqad4”
That ad, of course, is the video with Phoenix Suns Grant Hill and Jared Dudley promoting the ThinkB4YouSpeak campaign to stop the casual use of the word “gay” to mean something negative.
The ad has already aired during the NBA playoffs at least 4 times (by my count) and for Howard to pass it on to his over TWO MILLION followers is phenomenal.
Lastly, also from the Phoenix Suns, Steve Nash has joined the fight for marriage equality in New York. He offered this message with HRC:
“Hi, I’m Steve Nash. I spend my summers in New York, and I love playing in the Garden. A growing number of professional athletes are speaking out in support of gay and lesbian couples getting married. I’m proud to be one of them. Join me, and the supermajority of New Yorkers who support marriage equality.”
With an openly gay President and CEO, Rick Welts, and three allies on the team, I think it’d be safe for a gay player on the Phoenix Suns to come out. One team at a time until that brave player is ready.
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.
Last night in a game against the San Antonio Spurs, Kobe Bryant received his 15th technical of the season (1 technical shy of receiving an automatic 1-game suspension).
After receiving the technical, Kobe was pulled out of the game, punched his chair on the bench, threw a towel, yelled out to Bennie (the referee), then looks to say “fucking fag.”
The TNT cameras broadcast it live, and the commentator, Steve Kerr, wisely suggested the cameras stop focusing on Kobe.,
Did Kobe say what it looks like? What do you think?
[Update:] TMZ reports that a rep for the Lakers says, “The Lakers can not confirm that is what Kobe said or not.”
[Update:] Per ESPN, “The video from Tuesday’s game is under review by the NBA,” league spokesman Tim Frank said to ESPNLosAngeles.com via email.
[Update:] Kobe Bryant has issued the following statement/apology: “What I said last night should not be taken literally. My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period. The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.”
Sorry, Kobe, but that’s not good enough. Your frustrations nor your declared innocent intents do not detract from the damage of your actions. This type of behavior is unacceptable no matter the situation or the stimulus that spurs it. I hope he plans to do more than issue this meaningless apology (which really just deflects any sort of blame from himself).
Straight rugby international superstar Ben Cohen agrees: “It is disappointing to see this. As a professional athlete and rugby World Cup champion, I understand the heat and passion of competition at the highest levels. But we must all remember that strong bodies must be balanced with strong characters, and work toward that end. Our positions as role models demand it.”
[Update:] HRC and GLAAD have issued statements on the subject.
HRC issued the following statement:
“What a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching. Hopefully Mr. Bryant will recognize that as a person with such fame and influence, the use of such language not only offends millions of LGBT people around the world, but also perpetuates a culture of discrimination and hate that all of us, most notably Mr. Bryant, should be working to eradicate. Bryant and the Lakers have a responsibility to speak up on this issue immediately. America is watching.”
“Discriminatory slurs have no place on or off the court,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Professional sports players need to set a better example for young people who use words like this on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. The LA Lakers have a responsibility to educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable.”
GLAAD has reached out to the L.A. Lakers and will provide updates on GLAADBlog.org as they become available.
[Update:] The NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000.
Thanks to my friend Joe for bringing this to my attention.
On this Memorial Day, first and foremost, the lives lost defending this country and our freedoms must be remembered, honored, and commemorated. We who benefit from their service and sacrifice must never forget our fortunes.
Our gratitude certainly should have no bounds: all races, men and women, gay and straight have all sacrificed their lives for us. And as we benefit from their sacrifice, that we still disgrace their service with the discriminatory program of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is an insult to the freedoms of equality they fight to defend.
Now, last week, there was some historic legislation passed in the House which may lead to the repeal of DADT. Be wary of the reports you hear or read, however. The legislation is no more than another form of compromise flaunted as a victory by those who needed to back up their big talk—HRC and President Obama. Obama sent out a letter claiming that he lived up to his word, delivered on campaign promises, and made the repeal a priority. Queerty certainly does not agree, responding to those three claims as misleading, spin, and a lie.
HRC and Obama spoke of the legislation as if it were repeal; yet, there is no actual repeal language in the legislation. Rather, it passes the buck and leaves the decision of repeal up to the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. But it also gives no definite timeline to do so. Even if the legislation passes the Senate, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could remain in effect indefinitely. Is that something to celebrate? I’ll wait to pour the champagne until soldiers are actually free to serve openly without fear of discharge.
Lt. Dan Choi wrote a blog for Newsweek continuing the theme of those who are not satisfied: “On Monday, when I learned of the president’s compromised approach to repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” I felt betrayed. I am not celebrating now.”
“[The compromise] is the result of a White House that has been AWOL on “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal for the last year and a half, and now is desperately trying to find a solution—any solution, regardless of how unworkable—to a problem and a promise it would rather just go away.”
And although the compromise itself may not be something to celebrate, House Representative Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD) speech on the floor is worth recognizing. Watch the video, with my favorite part coming at 0:48 to 2:32, transcribed below.
But in the late 50s and early 60s, the mote force for the young people in this country was civil rights. It was about living out the promise of American equality. It was about a commitment of this country, which was the bedrock of this country, that all men were created equal and endowed, not by us, but by their creator with certain unalienable rights.
And I will tell my friends, I have some rhetoric here that was used in 1940, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, when there were some Americans you didn’t have to ask, they didn’t have to tell, because you knew they were African Americans. There was no hiding that. And we segregated them. And I heard Strom Thurmond stand on the floor of the Senate, he was a Democrat, speaking about discriminating against people because the color of their skin. Separate but equal. I’ve heard the same rhetoric.
Let me read some of it. “The army is the wrong place for social experiments. Keep African Americans in their place.” I was angered in the 1950s and 1960s when I saw that kind of rhetoric, because I thought that was not the American that I was so proud of. Hear that language that was used back in 1948. And read the transcripts today.