Michael Sam was a star football player at the University of Missouri. At the end of his final season, he came out publicly as gay. The move was noteworthy since there was great speculation that Sam would be a top pick during the NFL draft. On the last day, many were wondering if the NFL was going to draft him at all when he wasn’t picked in the early rounds. However, with just eight picks to go, late in the seventh round Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams. As of that moment, the NFL had its first gay player.
Correction – the NFL had its first openly gay player.
As gay rights supporters and activists rejoice in Sam’s place in history, many are not so thrilled about his presence. Take Jack Burkman, for example.
Jack Burkman is a Washington, D.C. lobbyist who works for industries ranging from energy to banking, in hopes of getting federal government contracts for his clients. The former Fox News analyst also appears periodically on TV promoting the conservative viewpoint. When he can’t get national airtime, he has his own podcast where he expresses his views on various issues including women in combat (“absurd” in his opinion), women in the workforce (“women need to be home with their children”) and gays in the Boys Scouts (“Parents get your sons out of the Boy Scouts!”).
When Michael Sam publicly came out it put Burkman over the edge. The idea that an openly gay man would be playing in the NFL became an issue of “great urgency” because it is the clarion call that society is “sliding in the wrong direction.” For Burkman there was only one solution: Congress must pass a law to stop gay players in the NFL.
As a professional lobbyist, Burkman kindly took the liberty of drafting the outline of the bill for the lawmakers.
In a one page draft released to the public in March, Burkman outlined the key points of the proposed bill. The American Decency Act of 2014 (yes, that is what he has titled it) is designed to be more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the NFL. This is clearly stated at the beginning, which says, “The National Football League and all teams thereof are hereby prohibited from employing self-declared homosexual football players. This prohibition shall only apply in cases where a football player has openly declared himself to be a homosexual.”
In Burkman’s no-gay-player-utopia, the NFL should be legally required to discriminate against its employees. However, he is a Republican and understands that a team might need to employ a gay player (not saying they ever have, of course), for business reasons. Therefore, Section 2 of the bill provides for an exemption for those teams. “The prohibition detailed in article (A) above shall not apply to any team of the National Football League that provides facilities for homosexual players which are entirely separate and distinct from the facilities used by heterosexual players.”
In other words, it also includes a separate but equal clause.
Just in case the NFL, a private business and bastion of liberal thought that actively campaigned against Arizona’s so-called “license to discriminate against gays” law, refuses to abide by the statute, they will be subject to fines “of not less than $3 million not more than $8 million.” The Department of Justice would be tasked with enforcing the law.
Burkman said that he had lawmakers interested in presenting the bill and predicted several more will co-sponsor, however there has been no movement in Congress on his proposal (it’s never going to happen).
While he continues to lobby Congress for the bill, Burkman’s worse nightmare has come true. Not willing to stand idle let the NFL destroy America, he has launched a boycott of Michael Sam, the St. Louis Rams, and Visa. This must be done because as he says, “Openly gay football players send a terrible message to our youth about morality. Somebody needs to step up because the moral fiber of the nation is eroding.”
Burkman claims to have a coalition of evangelical Christian leaders and powerful grassroots organizations mobilized in 27 of the 50 states. They will be instructing St. Louis Rams fans not to buy tickets to games or merchandise. Visa, which signed Sam to an endorsement deal, is also being targeted. Members of the public are being told to not use their Visa cards and to sell any stock they may have in the company.
When Burkman, a self proclaimed small government Republican, was pressed for why he was pursuing the no gays in the NFL legislation, especially since the issue in no way affects his clients (one of which ended their association with him) he responded, “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. I figured, well, it is time for conservatives in Congress to step in and define morality for them.”
It should be noted that Burkman was listed as a client of the D.C. Madam. And before you chalk this up as some quixotic crusade of an anti-gay bigot, remember he has gay friends…and a gay brother.
His brother, Dr. Jim Burkman, a Seattle anesthesiologist, who admits he and his brother don’t agree on political issues, said at the time of the announced NFL legislation: “He is my brother and I love him. But I told him years ago he should back off on gay issues, and if he ever crosses the line I would be happy to speak up as his gay brother. Today I felt he crossed the line.”
As for the boycott, Burkman is following through on his promise to launch one prior to the start of the draft. In that press release, Burkman promised to “rough up financially” any NFL franchise that drafted Sam. “The NFL, like most of the rest of American business, is about to learn that when you trample the Christian community and Christian values there will be a terrible financial price to pay,” he said.
This might be a good time to mention that Michael Sam’s jersey is the second highest selling jersey of any rookie drafted this year – outselling even the number one draft pick. He’s also just signed a deal with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network for his own docuseries.
I’m guessing Burkman’s boycott coalition hasn’t quite gotten the word out yet.