TAG | Metro Weekly
Metro Weekly, Washington, D.C.’s Gay & Lesbian News Magazine, called yesterdays “Night Out with the Nationals” a Grand Slam.
From a sports fans perspective, that certainly would be true: the Washington Nationals scored five runs in the bottom of the 9th inning, capped by a walk-off home run, to beat the Seattle Mariners 6-5.
From the perspective of those that appreciate progress for visibility of the LGBT community in sports, it was also a grand slam.
I’ve written before that, while I appreciate these “Pride Nights” even if they are just gimmicks to sell tickets, I’ll be especially encouraged when the events feature and recognize the LGBT community more prominently.
To date, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors were the shining example.
The Washington Nationals join the list of teams that went above and beyond to celebrate the LGBT community, and for that, I am thankful.
Metro Weekly reports that the event brought in more than 3,400 LGBT fans (see photos from the event here) and featured a slew of participation from some well known LGBT folk:
“The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington sang the national anthem. Amanda Simpson, the first openly transgender presidential employee, presented the Nationals’ lineup to the umpire. Daniel Hernandez, the gay intern who helped save the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), threw out the first pitch. And Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart opened the game with the magic words, ”Let’s play ball!””
Additionally, I know that Pat Griffin, who writes the blog “It Takes A Team” and is one of the most well-known scholars for Title IX and gender/sexuality issues in sports, was in attendance to receive an award on behalf of GLSEN’s Changing the Game campaign.
[EDIT:] Metro Weekly made an excellent video from the event:
I believe the next “Pride Nights” are in the MLS, with Chivas USA in Los Angeles (with Outsports co-sponsoring!) and the Columbus Crew hosting games on July 23. I’ll keep an eye out to see how those events go.
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.
The Maryland legislature is currently debating a marriage equality bill, and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is vocalizing his support of the bill alongside the organization Equality Maryland.
On this issue, Ayanbadejo has been well-known for writing a significant column for the Huffington Post in 2009, “Same Sex Marriages: What’s the Big Deal?”
Now, with marriage equality being considered in the state where he plays, his words speak volumes. In the video below, he delivers these powerful words (the full transcript is below the video):
“Gay and lesbian couples want to marry for similar reasons as we all do: love and commitment. It’s time to allow them the opportunity to build a family through marriage. It’s a matter of fairness.”
Full transcript, provided by the Baltimore Sun:
“Hello. My name is Brendon Ayanbadejo. I’m a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. And I’m proud to be a part of something that brings Marylanders together. Another issue that should unite Marylanders that I’m quite proud about is love and marriage. And right now, an important issue in our state is whether or not to allow gay and lesbian couples who love each other to marry.
“Gay and lesbian couples want to marry for similar reasons as we all do: love and commitment. It’s time to allow them the opportunity to build a family through marriage. It’s a matter of fairness. This is why I’m asking Marylanders to join me in supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples.
“Having the freedom to marry means committed couples and their children will have the same crucial protections under the law as other families. Churches can always have their beliefs, but government is supposed to treat everybody the same, and that’s equal. America is supposed to be the land of the free but in order for this to be true for all of us, then we must have the ability to marry whom we love regardless of their gender.
“Think about it, and join me in the land of the brave for standing on the side of love. Thank you.”
The equal marriage bill passed the state senate on February 24, by a close vote, 25-21. The bill is now being read before the House of Delegates during this week to prepare for a vote. Metro Weekly sums up the purpose of the bill: “If signed into law, the legislation would grant same-sex couples in the state legal marriage recognition, while also protecting the rights of religious institutions to handle issues of marriage however they see fit.”
That last tidbit is important, because opponents often argue – falsely, I should add – that their religious freedoms are at risk.
While the addition of letters to the communal acronym is often hard to follow and many will argue about what is most proper (LGBTQQI even leaves out some letters, and generally, I subscribe to the group using LGBT as a simplified, acceptable form), the additions are for good reason:
Each letter represents something that is clearly distinguishable within the scope of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Each letter is important because they show that we’re starting to truly recognize these distinctions. The sooner we acknowledge the individual letters within the community and within society at large, the more we will be prepared to find solutions for issues like intersex people competing in sports, what bathrooms Trans youth should use, etc. without being sidetracked by basic premises.
Sean Bugg wrote an excellent piece for Metro Weekly titled, “When it comes to transphobia, gays and lesbians still have a lot to learn.” Bugg put his pride aside and admitted something that the most of the GLB of the community should admit: the ‘T’ issues (and I’ll include the ‘I’) are often foreign to us as well. Understandably, we battled different social pressures (sexual orientation versus gender/sex). But the GLB in the community definitely needs to work harder to embrace the ‘T’ and ‘I’.
Do not feel ashamed if you’re a little stunted in your own knowledge and perceptions, because you are not alone. For the 6+ years I lived in Southern California and Texas, I’d say 90% of my friends were gay. But I can’t think of a single Trans (gender or sexual) person I knew. Only since volunteering at the Kaleidoscope Youth Center have I started to interact with Trans people more regularly. And while talking about KYC, these Trans youth are more brave and courageous than any child should ever be asked to be.
I am fortunate to have a very socially conscious and insists-to-be-accurate roommate that has really challenged my own ignorance and helped me to become more informed. He corrects me when I need to be corrected and answers tricky questions about how to accurately distinguish people. (Assuming distinguishing is necessary; he prefers the all-encompassing “queer” label for the community, but I find that to have a little too much negative sound to it.)
Some quick basics that must be stated: intersex is different than transgender, sex does not always match gender, and transgender and transsexual have nothing to do with sexual orientation.
We set up a society of dichotomies, but as a species, we are far from it.
Through my carousing of news lately, I have read several articles relating to the Trans community. Many of the articles, and especially the comments, use terms inaccurately and confuse sex, gender, and sexual orientation. A perfect example in the article about which bathroom Trans youth should be allowed to use: the random Christian group voicing their opinion said “[the new guidelines] represent the latest effort by the homosexual lobby to impose their confused views of sexuality on society at large.”
Sorry, but the truly “confused view of sexuality” is the one that assigns sex and gender at birth when there are ambiguities in genitalia.
Read the comments to that same article for a disturbing smack-in-the-face of misconceptions, ignorance, and bigotry.
More ignorance: Transgender issue leads club to cancel membership. In justifying this course of action, the country club wrote in a letter to Rachael Gieschen, the uninvited member: “Other members’ comments support the conclusion that, although you are now a woman, members will be uncomfortable regardless of which locker rooms or rest rooms you use.”
Look, I recognize that these subjects will make people uncomfortable at first. But first and foremost, legally and sexually, Gieschen is a female and a woman. Second, get over it. Whites were uncomfortable mixing with blacks 50 years ago. Hell, pathetically, that racial discomfort survives in far too many environments today.
But when you challenge your personal prejudices and perceptions, you learn that you were uncomfortable for no other reason than unfamiliarity.
I hope you have a bit more familiarity after reading this and challenge you to continue to familiarize yourself with the ‘T’ and the ‘I’. And I hope you continue to challenge me to do the same.