Lobbyist Jack Burkman Pushing Congress to Ban Gay Players in the NFL

Look, whether you agree or not, gay is the new black in America. No, I’m not talking about the new “Hey we’re post-racial because we have a black president black.” I am, however, talking about the period in history when it was perfectly legal to discriminate against people because of the color of their skin. So, pardon me if the comparison offends your melanin. Whether it does or not, fact is, given what’s happening in state legislatures across the country it’s pretty damn correct.

Recently I wrote about the “Turn The Gays Away” legislation which gives businesses and people the ability to discriminate against gay people while hiding behind the Bible. Well, it’s not just Tennessee; similar proposals have popped up in several states controlled by Republicans (yes, I’m looking at you Arizona, Georgia, and Missouri). Rachel Maddow has a very good report on the expansion of these anti-gay discriminatory legislation here.

As if the anti-gay freak out by Republicans weren’t bad enough, enter Jack Burkman, the CEO of Burkman LLC, himself a prominent lobbyist on Capitol Hill and Republican pocket-liner. Burkman announced a few days ago that he is currently pushing legislators to introduce legislation that will ban gay players in the NFL. You may remember me writing about Michael Sam who recently came out as an openly gay football player. Well, in the wake of this announcement Mr. Burkman just ain’t having it. Which is ridiculous considering that he doesn’t share an NFL locker room with anyone.

This from Sam Stein at The Huffington Post:

Jack Burkman, the CEO of Burkman LLC, said Monday that he would push Republican lawmakers to support the measure, which he put together after college football star Michael Sam announced that he is gay. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Burkman insisted that five members of the House of Representatives and one senator are interested in co-sponsoring the bill, and that those numbers would rise to 36 and five, respectively, within three weeks. Notably, he declined to name any of the lawmakers in question.


[…] Even Burkman concedes that conservatives like himself are supposed to find it abhorrent when the government tells a private business how to conduct its affairs.


“However,” he added, “there are times when that is trumped for reason of great urgency or necessity. And I think this is it, because I see the society sliding in the wrong direction.”


“I felt that if the NFL doesn’t have any morals, and people like [Commissioner] Roger Goodell, who are just go-along-get-along guys, just want to appease advertisers, appease corporate America and all that stuff,” he said, “I figured, well, it is time for conservatives in Congress to step in and define morality for them.”


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Republican strategist and lobbyist Jack Burkman

But the slope is slippery and filled with intolerance. Burkman expressed particular concern about the possibility of a gay man disrupting the delicate equilibrium of a locker room.


[…] Would Burkman be fine with openly gay men playing in the NFL if they used separate bathrooms from straight players?


“That would be a start,” he said.


And what about the obvious historical parallel to the era when Major League Baseball prohibited black ballplayers from taking the field?


“That is a completely different thing, a different issue. Race, skin color, have nothing to do with it,” Burkman said. “This is not about bigotry. It is about common decency and civility. Society is moving to a point where we are going to have unisex bathrooms and the next generation thinks that is OK.”

Did you get that? Burkman refuses to see his bigotry towards “the gays” as he does the discrimination faced by African-Americans at one point in U.S. history. Clearly to Burkman gay is not the new black. But you can’t convince homophobes that they’re being hypocritical on this issue; not even if you bring up the historic Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia ruling.

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Michael Sam (L) and Jason Collins (R)

Nope, to them, equal protection under the law means nothing. Which, if you’re going to hide behind the Bible makes perfect sense. How much sense? So much sense that a coalition of black preachers are circulating a petition to promote the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder for supporting same-sex marriage. Yeah, clearly, homophobes like Burkman have no chill.

Would one of you tell Burkman that Michael Sam will be an NFL player this year? Jason Collins came out of the closet last year, and now the 35-year-old has a new NBA contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Like Michael Sam, Collins is black and I suspect that we will see more openly gay athletes in professional sports in spite of the efforts of Burkman and his cabal.

Burkman claims to have a lot of gay friends who about his efforts believes will be respected.

“I think they would respect it,” he said. “I would hope that they would respect that a person is doing what he thinks is good public policy and doing what he thinks is right for the country.”

Stupid question: Would you support this proposal?