Banning gay players from NFL is absurd

Michael Sam at the scouting combine on Monday. (Michael Conroy/AP)
Michael Sam at the scouting combine on Monday. (Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

Michael Sam made history when he came out of the closet weeks before the NFL draft. Despite his lackluster performance yesterday at the scouting combine, the University of Missouri football star is getting closer to becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL. But Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman wants to barricade the locker room door by banning gay men from professional football.

Yesterday, WJLA-ABC 7 anchor Mike Conneen interviewed the latter-day George Wallace about his publicity-friendly bill. For eight minutes, Burkman tried to justify his homophobic legislation with lame hand-wringing about locker-room leering.

It’s about restoring common decency, Mike. When you think about it, would we allow women in a locker room? No. If your son were a football player would you want him showering with women? No. This is just common decency and civility. The reason we wouldn’t want a woman in there is because of sexual attraction between men and women. Such is the case between gay and straight. It’s just common sense. . . .

This legislation would do one of two things. One, it would ban them from the National Football League. Two, it would give the NFL a choice. It would allow them to create separate facilities – completely separate facilities. I just think it’s common decency.

First, straight guys, get over yourselves. You’re not attractive to every gay man. Another thing, Burkman and others treat the locker room like it’s the Serengeti. Gay men are the cunning leopards and straight men are the unsuspecting impala that get devoured. Puhleeze. Most important, whether it is the locker room, classroom or board room, it’s a work environment, which requires professionalism and mutual respect. Those who can’t handle that minimum requirement deserve to be shown the door.

Burkman told Conneen that he will “have 36 members in the House, six in the Senate” publicly supporting the bill “within three weeks, within 20 days.” Can’t wait to see who these misguided folks are. With same-sex marriage legal in 17 states, constitutional bans on marriage equality in three states declared unconstitutional and a majority of the nation supporting gay rights in general, the Burkman brigade is going nowhere fast.

As for the world of sports, Jeff Krehely, vice president and chief foundation officer at the Human Rights Campaign, made a very good point to me via instant message. “[We’re] at the point that we’re now moving toward a place where gay men are simply coming out. They’ve been in the locker room with you for years, and you’ve been fine,” he said. “Nothing is really changing. They’ve always been gay. You just know it now.”

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
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