The St. Louis Cardinals have found themselves in the crosshairs of the LGBT community for inviting former Cardinal Lance Berkman to the team’s annual Christian Day event.
Berkman’s presence sparks controversy amongst the gay community because of his role in the fight against the transgender bathroom ordinance, aka the “Equal Rights Ordinance,” in Houston in 2015.
Pride Center of St. Louis issued this highly critical statement of the Cardinals decision to invite Berkman: “Pride St. Louis is disappointed by the decision of the St. Louis Cardinals to provide a public platform for Berkman, an individual whose words and actions towards the LGBTQ+ are divisive and demeaning.”
The group initially released the statement to Outsports, an SB Nation website which prioritizes news involving the LGBT community and sports. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “On its own, Outsports has called Berkman a “bigot” and “an outspoken opponent of the LGBT community” who was “one of the faces of the campaign against Houston’s equal-rights ordinance” in 2015.”
Despite the backlash, as of this writing, the Cardinals remain committed to having Berkman attend “Christian Day.” The team issued their own statement in response to those troubled by the move: “The Cardinals have hosted a Christian Day at the ballpark for nearly three decades. Lance Berkman participated in Christian Day when he was a Cardinals player, and we welcome him back this year to discuss his faith.”
The Cardinals also said they plan to host an event in support of the LGBT community at some point later in the season.
Nonetheless, the team makes a good point here. Berkman has attended and spoken at these events before when he, presumably, held the same views towards transgender bathroom laws that he does now. So, what’s the problem?
Since it’s likely that the bathroom issue never would have come up on a night dedicated to celebrating the Christian faith, does the LGBT community really want to put the idea out there that they’re fine with tolerating and accepting all things unless Christianity is involved?
In his article on the Cardinals invitation to Berkman, Bill Baer wrote that Berkman “foolishly advocated against public accommodations for transgender people to use public bathrooms.” What was foolish about this? The part where he exercised his constitutional right to express an opinion in a free country?
It seems like Bill Baer’s attitude toward tolerance and acceptance is much the same as Outsports and the LGBT community’s attitude: acceptance and tolerance for all…unless they disagree with me.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn