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NHL bans special Pride warm-up jerseys next season

7 of the 1,123 active players objected, The autographed Pride jerseys are typically auctioned off to raise money for LGBTQ+ charities

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David Palumbo, You Can Play Vice Chair. (Screenshot/YouTube CBC News)

NEW YORK — The National Hockey League’s Board of Governors agreed at a meeting Thursday that players will no longer wear special rainbow-colored Pride-themed jerseys during warm-ups next season. 

Pride Nights and “Hockey Is For Everyone” celebrations will continue to be held when the puck drops on the 2023-2024 season in October, reported Sportsnet, which broke the story. The specially-designed jerseys will continue to be manufactured and sold, and players will still have the option to autograph or even model them. The autographed Pride jerseys are typically auctioned off to raise money for LGBTQ+ charities in each team’s hometown. 

But from now on, no pro hockey player will be wearing those rainbow jerseys during warm-ups. 

The change was prompted by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s recommendation, which he signaled was coming in a March interview with CTV News: “This is one issue where players for a variety of reasons may not feel comfortable wearing the uniform as a form of endorsement,” said Bettman. 

A grand total of seven NHL players, out of 1,123, decided to skip pregame warmups on Pride Nights when their teammates wore the special rainbow-themed jerseys before games, starting with Ivan Provorov, as the Los Angeles Blade reported in January

At that time, the Russian defenseman played for the Philadelphia Flyers, and claimed a religious exemption based on his Russian Orthodox faith. Provorov’s decision was defended by coach John Tortorella.

He was followed by James Reimer, a goaltender for the San Jose Sharks, and Canadian brothers Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers, who also cited their religious beliefs for not participating. Canada is home to the vast majority of NHL players, followed by American, Swedish and Russian athletes. 

Russian players Ilya Lyubushkin of the Buffalo Sabres, Denis Gurianov of the Montreal Canadiens and Andrei Kuzmenko of the Vancouver Canucks also refused to take part in the warmups wearing Pride-themed jerseys. 

Lyubushkin said he would not participate for fear of violating an anti-LGBTQ+ Russian law, which was also why the Chicago Blackhawks decided against Pride night jerseys. Then, despite promoting that players would wear the jerseys during warm-ups, the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild scrapped those plans. 

One notable Russian exception this past season was Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who took part in warmups on the same night the Staal brothers from Canada declined and stood apart from his comrades who decided they would not wear Pride jerseys. 

“I think it’s something that we’re going to have to evaluate in the offseason,” Bettman told CTV news in March.  

And so, it came to pass that the head of the NHL met with his league’s governors — during Pride Month — and agreed to ban Pride warm-up jerseys. 

Bettman, who this year celebrated three decades as NHL commissioner, defended his decision using the oldest homophobic trope in LGBTQ+ sports: That anything or anyone queer in sports is a “distraction.”

“It’s become a distraction and taking away from the fact that all of our clubs in some form or another, host nights in honor of various groups or causes, and we’d rather they continue to get the appropriate attention they deserve, and not be a distraction.” 

Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman reminded Bettman, “It’s Pride Month right now,” and asked him directly to address that. 

“Those are legitimate concerns,” replied Bettman. “We’re keeping the focus on the game. And on these specialty nights, we’re going to be focused on the cause.”

The 2022 Warm-up jersey of Anže Kopitar, Slovenian professional ice hockey centre and captain of the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League.
(Photo credit: Los Angeles Kings)

The You Can Play Project, the nonprofit advocacy organization that works to erase homophobia in sports and support the inclusion of LGBTQ+ fans as well as athletes, said in a statement to the Associated Press that it was “concerned and disappointed” by the decision.

“Today’s decision means that the over 95% of players who chose to wear a Pride jersey to support the community will now not get an opportunity to do so,” said the organization. “The work to make locker rooms, board rooms and arenas safer, more diverse, and more inclusive needs to be ongoing and purposeful, and we will continue to work with our partners at the NHL, including individual teams, players, agents and the NHLPA to ensure this critical work continues.” 

It was not clear as of press time if the NHL ban on Pride warm-up jerseys would also apply to rainbow-colored Pride Tape, which many hockey players applied to their sticks for warm-ups in prior seasons as another show of support for the LGBTQ+ community.

NHL players to stop wearing Pride jerseys:

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NFL kicker Harrison Butker doubles down on his extremist remarks

‘Unapologetic’ Catholic he said then compared himself to saints and martyrs, claims to be victim of hate in new speech

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Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker speaking at a fundraising gala in support of Regina Caeli Academy May 24, 2024. (Screenshot/YouTube Daily Wire)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In his first public comments since delivering a controversial commencement address, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker doubled-down on his extremist right-wing remarks that were widely criticized for misogyny, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and disrespect toward the president of the United States. 

Referencing the theme of Friday night’s fundraising gala in support of Regina Caeli Academy — “Courage Under Fire” — Butker vowed that the “shocking level of hate” he had received will not deter him from being “unapologetic” about his Roman Catholic faith.

“If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now,” Butker said, as first reported by the anti-LGBTQ+ right wing outlet, the Daily Wire. “Over the past few days, my beliefs, or what people think I believe, have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe.”

As the Los Angeles Blade reported, the three-time Super Bowl champion’s address to a private, Catholic-run liberal arts college in Kansas on May 11 has sparked outrage from women, advocates and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, football fans and even Catholic nuns. A petition on Change.org demanding the Chiefs fire Butker has more than 226,000 signatures as of press time. 

But Butker has also found support from prominent Chiefs teammates Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelcie, who each defended his right to his opinions while distancing themselves from his words. Butker noted that support from teammates Friday night: “As the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion,” Butker said.

The NFL player said that in the face of adversity, he put his trust in “the Lord’s Providence and… the Holy Ghost,” to applause from the crowd. He compared the backlash he’s experienced in the past two weeks to the trials of medieval martyrs and ancient saints who faced lions, saying: “In reality, any courage I’ve shown will lead to some small suffering, and it will lead to some people maybe never liking me, but that could be God’s will.”

Butker’s number 7 jersey is reportedly the most popular men’s clothing item on NFL.com. Even though he drew criticism for suggesting female-identified graduates consider being a “homemaker” over pursuing a career, women’s jerseys are sold out.

“It cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker,” Butker said during the commencement speech he delivered at Benedictine College, as the Blade reported. His other remarks compared LGBTQ+ Pride month events to biblical “deadly sins,” denounced “dangerous gender ideologies” and the “diabolical lies told to women,” and spoke out against abortion, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, as well as President Joe Biden. 

Butker, 28, criticized Biden’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and questioned his devotion to Roman Catholicism, calling him “delusional.” Speaking directly to the men in the audience, the athlete advised them to “be unapologetic in your masculinity,” and to “fight against the cultural emasculation of men.”

“In my seven years in the NFL, I’ve become familiar with positive and negative comments,” Butker said in Nashville Friday. “But the majority of them revolve around my performance on the field. But, as to be expected, the more I’ve talked about what I value most, which is my Catholic faith, the more polarizing I’ve become. It’s a decision I’ve consciously made, and one I do not regret at all.”


The event also featured speeches by Daily Wire hosts Matt Walsh and Michael Knowles, and was sponsored by Bentkey, The Daily Wire’s kids entertainment streaming service, according to the Daily Wire.

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Trans high school athlete booed at Oregon state track meet

She’s been targeted by some of the biggest names in transphobic circles as well as the usual band of anti-trans trolls across social media

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Aayden Gallagher, a sophomore at Portland's McDaniel High School shown here as she won the 6A 200-meter state title for Oregon girls. (Screenshot/YouTube)

EUGENE, Ore. — Aayden Gallagher is a girl. She’s also a sophomore at Portland’s McDaniel High School and happens to be transgender. For that, the 10th grader was booed by grown adults Saturday, because she was the fastest runner to cross a finish line in one event at a state championship track meet. Those boos can be heard in videos that have since gone viral. 

Ever since, she’s been targeted by some of the biggest names in transphobic circles as well as the usual band of anti-trans trolls across social media. 

Gallagher was one of eight girls competing in the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A 200-meter final at her state’s championship meet at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. She won that race by two-tenths of a second, finishing at 23.82 seconds, with Roosevelt High School sophomore Aster Jones closely behind at 24.02. 

Last month, it was Jones who finished first and Gallagher second, at the Sherwood Need for Speed Classic. But coming in second doesn’t generate outrage, even when Gallagher won the silver in the 400 on Saturday. 

The crowd is heard booing again in videos posted online showing Gallagher receiving her gold medal. 

Those videos were shared with venom by anti-trans athlete activist and failed former college swimmer Riley Gaines. As the Los Angeles Blade has reported, Gaines is a paid shill for the anti-inclusion organization, Independent Women’s Forum and now heads The Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, an anti-LGBTQ+ right-wing training center for conservative youth in Arlington, Va. 

The booing clips were also spread by Chaya Raichik, the social media menace behind the account “Libs of TikTok.” The Southern Poverty Law Center designates Raichik as a propagandist who “mobilizes right-wing extremist groups in violent attacks against” against LGBTQ+ people and institutions.

Amplifying Gaines and other mudslinging haters are reporters from every corner of the media, including People magazine and the Christian Post, which went so far as to misgender Gallagher and, for no apparent reason, deadname out transgender NCAA champion swimmer Lia Thomas. 

Instagram is rife with social media posts from around the world denouncing Gallagher for “destroying women’s sports” by barely winning one race. 

Aayden Gallagher, a sophomore at Portland’s McDaniel High School was the fastest runner to cross a finish line in one event at the state championship track meet.
(Screenshot/YouTube)

The bottom line, however, is that Gallagher competed according to the rules. She did not cheat; Oregon’s policy, as dictated in the OSAA Handbook, clearly states that students can compete on the athletic team that aligns with their self-declared gender identity, without the need for medical intervention. The policy “allows students to participate for the athletic or activity program of their consistently asserted gender identity while providing a fair and safe environment for all students.” It does not require that trans student-athletes undergo transition-related medical treatment prior to competing.

That policy matches Connecticut’s Interscholastic Athletic Conference guidelines on transgender participation, which are the target of an ongoing federal lawsuit brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing cisgender student-athletes. 

Of course, Gallagher did get her flowers, too, not just thorns. Genderqueer nonbinary pansexual biologist, Dr. Juniper Simonis saluted her for being “a strong, fast student-athlete.” 

Best of all, Oregonian sports columnist Bill Oram called out the “bad-faith internet cretins who are exploiting her identity for a belt-notch in the culture wars,” while conceding in an op-ed, “I get it if parents are mad,” and “I do not know what the answer is.”

“But what I do know, and I’m confident saying here, is that judgment cannot be handed down by a mob of people who are limited to the binary device of cheers and boos… The presence of a trans athlete led to additional security during the medal presentation. Law enforcement wasn’t there to protect the rest of the competitors from the trans athlete. No, it was there to protect the athlete from adults who were so spun up by her existence and her athletic excellence that they might resort to violence.

“Nobody deserves that. Certainly not a child.”

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Riley Gaines is fundraising to ‘defend the truth’ by spreading lies

The fifth-place swimmer-turned-activist hosts a weekly podcast for the right wing, anti-LGBTQ+ sports website Outkick

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Riley Gaines giving a speech during a recent event of The Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Va. (Screenshot/YouTube- The Leadership Institute)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two years after Riley Gaines swam at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, slower than four other cisgender women and no faster than a transgender woman, the former University of Kentucky graduate is making bank off her ignominious fifth-place finish. 

Gaines already hosts a weekly podcast for the right wing, anti-LGBTQ+ sports website Outkick and is a paid shill for the anti-inclusion organization, Independent Women’s Forum. Now, the 24-year-old is heading up The Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, an organization described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “right-wing… home to a number of prominent politicians and activists on the American right.” It was founded by Morton C. Blackwell in 1979 and is based in Arlington, Va. 

As The Nation reported in 2022, Blackwell was the youth director for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign. In its 45-years of existence, his nonprofit institute has been “funneling right-wing students from campus groups into the conservative machine,” with alumni that includes former Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and ‘conservative provocateur’ Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe. The institute claims that Blackwell has likely “trained more political activists than any other conservative”—more than 200,000—with over 1,700 conservative clubs and newspapers on campuses nationwide.

And now, Riley Gaines is the institute’s new poster child. 

“Join my team and help protect women, free speech, and common sense,” says the website promoting Gaines’ new platform. “My team of Ambassadors and I are building a movement of students, athletes, and concerned citizens who are fed up with the attack on our freedoms and rights — and who dare to defy the dangerous gender ideology that’s spreading rampant and unchecked throughout society.”

“Through the Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, Riley will create powerful leaders to combat radical leftist ideology in their schools, their communities, and nationwide,” says on a page soliciting contact information to “get exclusive updates from Riley.” 

A page offering a way to request Gaines’ “help” makes this bold statement: “Riley is building an army of patriotic women, men, students, athletes, parents — and patriots who stand up for the truth — to combat radical transgender ideology before it takes over America.”

Gaines, who has made frequent appearances on right-wing propaganda programs on cable television and traveled the country touring campuses to promote both transphobia and her book, Swimming Against the Current, has recently ditched the rant that made her famous. That’s the one she’s trotted out ever since tying with transgender national champion swimmer Lia Thomas in March 2022: Gaines has repeated ad infinitum how upsetting it was to leave Atlanta without a trophy. 

The truth is, NCAA officials had only one fifth place trophy, so they handed Gaines the sixth place trophy to hold for photographs, and promised to send hers by mail. To be clear, there was no sixth place finisher; USC’s Laticia Transom finished seventh. And as Swimming World magazine reported in 2022, “Thomas is listed ahead of Gaines on the official results page, which indicates that Thomas touched ahead of Gaines by less than one hundredth” of a second. 

“Ok that’s fine, she worked hard, just like I worked hard, there’s no question there,” Gaines told the conservative outlet Daily Wire in 2022, when she was first interviewed about this. “But can I ask why she gets the fifth-place trophy before I do? Especially last night, she just won the national title.”

While Gaines has endlessly repeated her outrage about the trophy in speaking engagements and on television, she has apparently decided to not repeat something she said about Thomas in her interview with the right-wing outlet: 

“I am in full support of her and full support of her transition and her swimming career and everything like that,” insisted Gaines, “because there’s no doubt that she works hard too, but she’s just abiding by the rules that the NCAA put in place, and that’s the issue.”

Now, two years later, Gaines deadnames Thomas and misgenders him, calling him a man who “stole top spots from me and my fellow female athletes.” 

That’s an excerpt from an email the institute sent to conservatives on May 14, which opens with Gaines’ latest plea for cash based on apparent lies and misstatements. 

“It was the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had,” the email begins. “I had just given a speech when agitators stormed the room.” She’s regaling readers with her account of what happened during her Turning Point USA-sponsored appearance at San Francisco State University in April 2023. 

“A man — wearing a woman’s dress — punched me twice. Then I spent three hours barricaded in a classroom while leftist college students just outside the door yelled the most obscene things at me, including, “f*cking transphobic b*tch!” All because I said things like… men are men — and men are not women… there are only two sexes… men have no business being in women’s locker rooms and playing in women’s sports.” 

Gaines shared video of this on social media that shows, well, a not very warm welcome at SFSU, but no evidence of her claims of being assaulted and held captive.

Turns out, the university police didn’t see anything, either, and closed the case. “UPD conducted an investigation and after interviewing involved parties and reviewing available video footage found that claims of crimes committed were unfounded,” wrote UPD in an email, as reported by a student newspaper, the Golden Gate Express.

Given that she lacks any evidence to support her pitch for funding, Gaines shifts her plea to appeal to “conservative principles:”

“I write to you because I know you’re rational. And more than that, you’re an American who believes in conservative principles.

“You love our country.

“And you understand that conservative principles have guided America — a country that has done the most good of any country,. anywhere.

“But leftists today not only challenge those basic truths, they want to blow up the very foundations of our country and construct something completely different.

“They’re radically changing the answer to the question “What is a woman?” to the point that if you say a man cannot be a woman, you will pay for it dearly.

“This issue is at the very core of what it means to be an American. If you and I do not have the right to free speech — and the ability to speak basic, commonsense truths – – then we have lost our country.”

So, that’s what Gaines is doing two years after finishing fifth. Canadian Taylor Ruck won that competition as a student from Stanford in 2022, and this summer, the four-time Olympic medalist is headed to Paris with Team Canada. Immediately after competing in Atlanta, neither Thomas nor Gaines talked to the reporters covering the championship. But Ruck did. 

As the Los Angeles Blade reported, I asked Ruck her thoughts on Thomas. She said she heard “the chatter” about her, but was focused only on her own performance and apparently didn’t consider it unfair for Thomas to compete. “Competition is competition,” said Ruck, who added that she relished the challenge Thomas represented. “I was excited to race against someone who swims so fast.”

Isabel Ivey finished second in 2022, representing the University of California Berkeley. This past March, she was part of the University of Florida’s championship team in the 800 Freestyle Relay, the school’s first national title since 2010, as Swimming World Magazine reported.

Kelly Pash of the University of Texas came in third ahead of Gaines and Thomas in 2022, and finished second in this year’s 200 fly championship final at the NCAA Championships in March, according to Big12sports.com

And the fourth best swimmer that day in March 2022 was Stanford’s Lillie Nordmann, . She’s now the captain of the swim team, a junior, and an activist. Not against transgender inclusion, but for sustainability. 
“I’ve always been very passionate about the environment and trying to reduce my carbon footprint,” Nordmann told the Stanford Daily school newspaper last month. “I also wanted to foster a community where student athletes could collaborate.”

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Nuns denounce Harrison Butker’s speech

The Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica and the L.A. Chargers join GLAAD, as others come to defense of Kansas City Chiefs kicker

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Photo courtesy of The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica.

ATCHISON, Kan. — As anyone who’s ever attended a Catholic-run school knows, the first rule about nuns is, don’t do anything that will draw their ire. Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, whose commencement address this month at Benedictine College has been heavily criticized for misogyny and homophobia, has violated that rule by pissing off the pious sisters of Mount St. Scholastica.

“The Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested,” the nuns wrote in a statement posted on Facebook, adding “We reject a narrow definition of what it means to be Catholic.”

“Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division,” the nuns wrote. “One of our concerns was the assertion that being a homemaker is the highest calling for a woman. We sisters have dedicated our lives to God and God’s people, including the many women whom we have taught and influenced during the past 160 years. These women have made a tremendous difference in the world in their roles as wives and mothers and through their God-given gifts in leadership, scholarship, and their careers.” 

Photo courtesy of The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica.

The vast majority of the comments in response to the post expressed gratitude to the sisters for standing up for women. 

As the Los Angeles Blade reported, the NFL player called on female graduates to aspire to be homemakers, like his wife, in his May 11 commencement address. Butker, who has won three Super Bowl rings, made no mention of his own mother, an accomplished physicist

“I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker,” said Butker.  “It is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you. Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world,” Butker said.

Ever since that remark, along with his comments against abortion, IVF, “dangerous gender ideologies” and his comparison to Pride month as one of the biblical deadly sins, Butker has been hounded by critics and followers on his social media

“I didn’t graduate with an engineering degree and become a Rocket Scientist to cook some dude’s dinner!” said one. “I am Christian and I have a PhD. Thanks to generations of feminists, I was able to study. I was able to have a family. I was able to do both. I was able to have the choice. You should be ashamed,” said another. 

And there was this comment on Butker’s Instagram post captioned, “For the greater glory of God.” 

“Bro…your boss @nfl just agreed with the majority of women….maybe you should stick to the locker room….I mean, you went after women and pride month in one fell swoop…@chiefs can you get a refund and pick up a practice team player? Asking for millions of successful women who can not have children and have jobs outside the home.”

She’s referring to the NFL statement putting distance between the league and Butker’s remarks: “Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” said the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer Jonathan Beane earlier this month. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

Pearl Jam rocker Eddie Vedder reportedly took time to bash Butker from the stage of the band’s Las Vegas concert Saturday night, noting that two of the band members in the opening act, including its lead singer, are women.

“The singer, Jessica, and the keyboard player, Patti, they must not have believed that ‘diabolical lie’ that women should take pride in taking a back seat to their man,” Vedder said, according to Variety. “There should be pride in homemaking if you’re a man or a woman… it’s one of the hardest jobs and you should definitely take pride in it, but you’re going to benefit by giving up your dreams?” said Vedder. “I couldn’t understand the logic, so I’m questioning it in public right now… It’s not a graduation speech.”

The Chiefs’ NFL rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers, also mocked Butker in a Sims-style video on X, showing an animated, bearded Chiefs player with his number 7 toiling in the kitchen. It’s a blink or you’ll miss it moment at 2:55. 

GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis was among those who immediately denounced Butker’s comments, calling them “inaccurate, ill-informed and woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women.”

But Butker does have his supporters, including the wife and eldest daughter of Kansas City Chiefs CEO. Clark Hunt himself has not commented publicly.

“I’ve always encouraged my daughters to be highly educated and chase their dreams,” Tavia Hunt wrote on Instagram, alongside photographs of herself with her children. “I want them to know that they can do whatever they want (that honors God). But I also want them to know that I believe finding a spouse who loves and honors you as or before himself and raising a family together is one of the greatest blessings this world has to offer.”

25-year-old Gracie Hunt, the oldest daughter of Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt, had this to say on FOX & Friends: “Well, I can only speak from my own experience, which is I’ve had the most incredible mom who had the ability to stay home and be with us as kids growing up,” she said. “And I understand that there are many women out there who can’t make that decision. But for me and my life, I know it was really formative and in shaping me and my siblings into who we are.”

 Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones also voiced support for Butker in a post on social media, declaring: “I love you @buttkicker7! My brotha.” 

Actress Patricia Heaton, a conservative Christian anti-abortion activist who TV viewers may remember from “Everybody Loves Raymond,” also weighed-in in support of Butker, in an Instagram video. 

One thing is for sure, if Butker wants to join his teammates at the White House when President Biden invites the Chiefs to celebrate their Super Bowl championship, he will be welcomed despite his disparaging remarks about President Biden. Butker referred to him as “delusional” in his commencement address. 

“What I can say is all of the team, per usual when there is a championship team, gets invited,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on May 17. “I don’t have anything to add on their attendance or how that looks, but the team is always invited. Everyone on the team is invited.”

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Misogynistic & homophobic remarks by NFL player sparks outrage

Those in attendance laughed in support of Butker when he mocked Pride month as he cited a recent article headlined: “‘A step back in time’

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Harrison Butker (Screenshot/YouTube Benedictine College)

ATICHSON, Kan. — Addressing a friendly audience at a private, Catholic liberal arts college, three-time Super Bowl champion Harrison Butker spoke from his heart about his faith and revealed his personal beliefs as a cisgender man about women and the LGBTQ+ community. 

In his 20-minute commencement address at Benedictine College on Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs kicker said LGBTQ+ Pride month events are an example of biblical “deadly sins,” denounced “dangerous gender ideologies” and the “diabolical lies told to women,” declared a woman’s most important title is “homemaker,” and offered his take on abortion, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, as well as President Joe Biden. 

Butker, 28, criticized Biden’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and questioned his devotion to Roman Catholicism, calling him “delusional.” Speaking directly to the men in the audience, the athlete advised them to “be unapologetic in your masculinity,” and to “fight against the cultural emasculation of men.”

The pro football player announced that God had given him a platform to speak and that, “I have no other choice but to embrace it,” he said. 

Those in attendance laughed in support of Butker when he mocked Pride month as he cited a recent article by the Associated Press, headlined: “‘A step back in time’: America’s Catholic Church sees an immense shift toward the old ways.” The article detailed the institution’s shift “toward the old ways” and highlighted Benedictine’s rules that “seem like precepts of a bygone age,” which include “volunteering for 3 a.m. prayers” and “pornography, premarital sex and sunbathing in swimsuits being forbidden.”

“I am certain the reporters at the AP could not have imagined that their attempt to rebuke and embarrass places and people like those here at Benedictine wouldn’t be met with anger but instead met with excitement and pride,” said Butker. “Not the deadly sins sort of Pride that has an entire month dedicated to it, but the true God-centered pride that is cooperating with the Holy Ghost to glorify him.” Butker went on to say that only by surrendering one’s self to Christ will anyone find happiness. 

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer Jonathan Beane said in a statement addressing his comments. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, called Butker’s speech “inaccurate, ill-informed and woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women.”

“Those with expansive platforms, especially athletes, should use their voices to uplift and expand understand and acceptance in the world,” she said in a statement. “Instead, Butker’s remarks undermine experiences not of his own and reveal him to be one who goes against his own team’s commitment to the Kansas City community, and the NFL’s standards for respect, inclusion and diversity across the league.”

Butker called on religious leaders “to stay in their lane and lead,” and told women their place was in the kitchen and the maternity ward.  

“I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker,” said Butker, and his words were met with thunderous applause. 

“It is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you. Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world,” Butker said.

The Chiefs did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but someone who handles social media for Kansas City posted on X that Butker doesn’t even live in Kansas City but in a suburb 30 miles outside city limits, in a now-deleted tweet. 

Someone then posted an apology using that account:

And Kansas City’s mayor himself apologized, also on X, saying “A message appeared earlier this evening from a City public account. The message was clearly inappropriate for a public account,” he posted. “The City has correctly apologized for the error, will review account access, and ensure nothing like it is shared in the future from public channels.”: 

Butker’s comments earned him comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale, both in his words and in how his beard appeared similar to one of the Hulu series’ characters. 

You can watch Butker’s commencement address in full here: 

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Engaged lesbian teammates spoil Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut

Connecticut Sun fans saw the powerful duo of Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner lead the home team to victory

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Former college basketball phenom Caitlin Clark at the WNBA Draft Press Conference, April 15, 2024. (Screenshot/YouTube WNBA)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The sold-out crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena came to see former college basketball phenom Caitlin Clark in her professional debut, but thanks to two women in love with one another, fans also saw the powerful duo of Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner lead the home team to victory. 

The Connecticut Sun broke the Indiana Fever, 92 to 71, on the league’s regular season opening night.

Clark, the WNBA’s number one draft pick, finished with 20 points on 5-of-15 shooting, 4-of-11 on 3-pointers, 6-of-6 free throws. The 22-year-old also had 3 assists, 2 steals and 10 turnovers. But considering this was her WNBA debut, it was a lousy start: Clark went scoreless in the first quarter and missed her first four shots before finally getting on the board midway through the second period.

The Fever offense was overpowered by Thomas, who led the Sun with 13 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for her ninth career triple-double, which extends her all-time record to 12 if you include the playoffs. 

“I’m just doing what I do,” said Thomas, in a post-game interview with ESPN on the hardwood. “This is my game.” 

Her fiancée, meanwhile, had 20 points and moved into fifth place on the all-time WNBA scoring list, and Thomas spoke about Bonner following the game. 

“I think she’s underrated,” Thomas told ESPN. “Fifth, all time? I mean, come on! It’s unheard of, and at her age? She’s incredible. She makes it look easy out there.” 

Bonner, 36, passed former Phoenix Mercury teammate — and ex-wife Candice Dupree — who finished her career with 6,895 points and last week was named head coach at Tennessee State University.  Bonner did so on a layup in the middle of the third quarter. She now has 6,901 points, and, after a timeout, raised her hands before the crowd to acknowledge the accomplishment.

Thomas, 32, has been dating Bonner since the COVID lockdowns of 2020, when they spent time together in the WNBA “bubble,” as the Los Angeles Blade reported following their engagement in July 2023. 

Bonner, the mother of twin girls with Dupree, also was a major reason for Clark’s early offensive struggles, hounding the guard who before this was the NCAA’s all-time Division I scoring leader. 

Earlier in the game, Clark managed a steal around the foul line and drove the length of the court before sinking the ball. She later added two free throws and hit a 3-pointer with 29.9 seconds left in the first half. Clark finished the opening 20 minutes with seven points, sinking two of her seven shot attempts. The Fever trailed 49-39 at the break. 

Late in the third quarter, the Fever staged a comeback and closed within six points, with the score 63-57, thanks to two free throws by Clark. But Indiana never got closer the rest of this first game of the season.

DiJonai Carrington and Tyasha Harris each added 16 points for the Sun, who finished the 2023 regular season with a 27–13 record and were the third seed in the 2023 WNBA Playoffs. 

Those 27 wins were the most in franchise history. Unfortunately, they lost 81–92 to the New York Liberty in a must-win game four of the semifinal series to end their season. 

Last month, team president Jennifer Rizzotti accepted the Team Leadership Award at the Connecticut Voice Magazine Honors Gala in Hartford, Conn. She accepted this award on behalf of the Connecticut Sun as the organization continues to lead efforts in DEI and supporting creative and inclusive spaces for those in the LGBTQ+, underrepresented and underserved communities.

Jennifer Rizzotti accepted the Team Leadership Award at the Connecticut Voice Magazine Honors Gala in Hartford, Conn. (Photo: Dawn Ennis/CT Voice)

Next up for the Sun: The Washington Mystics visit Uncasville on Friday, while the Fever host the Liberty on Thursday.

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Out lesbian basketball star Candace Parker tells fans: ‘I’m retiring’

After winning three championships with LA Sparks, Chicago Sky & Las Vegas Aces over 16 seasons, Parker says she’s not returning to the game

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Candace Parker (Screenshot/YouTube Las Vegas Aces)

LAS VEGAS — Just three months ago, it seemed as if three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Candace Parker would play one more season with the Las Vegas Aces. But this week, the married mom of two — with a third child due this monthannounced on Instagram that she has played her last game as a professional basketball player. 

“I promised I’d never cheat the game & that I’d leave it in a better place than I came into it. The competitor in me always wants 1 more, but it’s time,” Parker wrote. “My HEART & body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it. I always wanted to walk off the court with no parade or tour, just privately with the ones I love. What now was to be my last game, I walked off the court with my daughter. I ended the journey just as I started it, with her.”

That was July 2023. Parker then underwent surgery for a foot injury that caused her to miss the second half of the 2023 season — her tenth surgery in her stellar 16-year career with the WNBA. And it was the outcome of that surgery that Parker says prompted her to decide to not return to the hardwood. “This offseason hasn’t been fun on a foot that isn’t cooperating,” she wrote, adding that she can’t continue “playing in pain.”

“It’s no fun hearing ‘she isn’t the same’ when I know why,” said Parker in her post. “It’s no fun accepting the fact you need surgery AGAIN.”

Parker has two nicknames: “Ace,” which seemed most appropriate in her time with the Aces, and “Can do,” a play on her first name and short for “can do anything,” which pretty much sums up her post-retirement plans. 

“This is the beginning…I’m attacking business, private equity, ownership (I will own both a NBA & WNBA team), broadcasting, production, boardrooms, beach volleyball, dominoes (sorry babe it’s going to get more real) with the same intensity & focus I did basketball.” 

But all that is In addition to expecting a baby this month with her wife and former teammate Anna Petrakova. Parker made it clear that “being a wife & mom still remains priority #1.”

Parker hadn’t publicly acknowledged she and Petrakova had married in 2019 until their second wedding anniversary in December 2021, which is also when she revealed to the world via a post on Instagram they were expecting their first child together. Airr Larry Petrakov Parker was born in February 2022. Parker’s oldest, Lailaa Nicole Williams, was born in 2009 when she was with the Sparks, during her first marriage. 

The couple announced Petrakova was expecting in a post on their fourth wedding anniversary last December. 

Parker, 38, is the only player in WNBA history to have been part of three championship teams. In January 2023, she left the Chicago Sky for Vegas after two years back in her native Illinois. The 6’4 forward/center was a legendary member of the Lady Vols who went on to play for the Los Angeles Sparks for 13 seasons, winning her first WNBA championship. 

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Olympic study: Trans athletes may be at a disadvantage in sports

In a study backed by the IOC, researchers studied 75 trans & cisgender athletes, comparing strength, power & aerobic capacity

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Courtesy of the International Olympic Committee

LONDON — A ground-breaking study, partly funded by the International Olympic Committee, found that transgender athletes could actually be disadvantaged in some competitive sports, contrary to claims by transphobic pundits, politicians and right-wing media.

Scientists found significant differences between trans women and male athletes who were not transgender, aka cisgender men, and noted how similar they were to cis women. 

“These differences underscore the inadequacy of using cisgender male athletes as proxies for transgender women athletes,” said the researchers. 

Their work was published this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The researchers tested 23 trans women, 12 trans men, 21 cis women and 19 cis men. The trans athletes had all undergone more than one year of cross-sex hormone therapy. Those tests included cardiovascular, strength and lower-body power exercises. 

According to the research, trans women performed worse than cis women and cis men in certain cardiovascular tests and had less lower-body strength. But the bone density of the trans women was found to be similar to that of the cis female athletes. The trans women athletes also had decreased lung function compared to the cis women. 

Right now, laws on the books in 24 states across the U.S. ban trans student-athletes from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

But the study’s authors concluded that their research indicates trans athletes could be disadvantaged, prompting them to warn sports governing bodies including the IOC that banning trans women from women’s sports should not be done without thorough research.

A “long-term longitudinal study” is now needed, the researchers say.

“The main takeaway message is the requirement of international federations… to treat trans women very differently to cis men,” lead researcher Prof. Yannis Pitsiladis told Outsports. “It follows that research comparing biological men to biological women is almost irrelevant in this debate, and evidence from such comparisons should not be used to inform policy as is the case by many ‘armchair professors’ advocating the default ban position.”

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2024 Music City Open Disc Golf Pro Tour suspends over threats

“This threat is a perfect example of what happens when extreme views are tolerated in a community- Hate and violence have no place anywhere”

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Natalie Ryan during 2022 Disc Golf Pro Tour. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Ryan)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Out transgender professional disc golfer Natalie Ryan faced a greater hazard last weekend than anything on the course: A threat of violence.

“I’ve dealt with threats to myself through my career, but today was different,” Ryan wrote in an Instagram post on April 20. “Today someone called in a threat of violence against myself and potentially the other players, staff, and spectators. Play was suspended today because of this person.”

According to the Disc Golf Pro Tour, the event was paused after receiving that threat of violence, which specifically targeted Ryan, highlighting the security challenges faced by transgender athletes.

“A call came into the event site stating there would be a threat of potential violence against a competitor at this weekend’s tournament,” noted the DGPT, prompting immediate action to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators. 

“April 20, 2024: Earlier this morning, the Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) temporarily suspended competition and spectating at the 2024 Music City Open due to a threat of potential violence against a competitor at this weekend’s tournament. 

“The type of threat was unspecified and made no specific mention of harm to any other person but rose to the level at which tour staff began initiating safety protocols. Metro police were immediately contacted and responded to the scene to assess the situation. The player in question was also notified, as were their cardmates.

“Based on preliminary guidance from Metro police and in the interest of safety for players, staff, volunteers, spectators, and vendors, the DGPT suspended the competition and removed all individuals from the area while the situation was assessed.

“After assessing the situation with Metro police and local tournament staff, additional security measures were deployed on-site, and play resumed at 11:00 AM CT.”

“Threats of violence at DGPT events are utterly unacceptable and are treated with the utmost seriousness by our entire staff,” said Jeff Spring, DGPT CEO and Tour Director. “We have deployed additional security resources to enhance the safety measures in place for all individuals on-site.” Spring said those resources remained in place for the entirety of the weekend tournament. 

“I want to thank local law enforcement and the local tournament staff for their prompt and professional response,” continued Spring. “Furthermore, I want to assure players, spectators, partners, and fans that we are continuing to practice vigilance. We are in continued communication with both the Metro and Nashville police departments, who continue to investigate the situation, and we will continue to coordinate and cooperate with both entities in full.”

Ryan’s post on April 20 framed the threat as a result of intolerance. 

“This threat is a perfect example of what happens when extreme views are tolerated in a community,” she wrote. “Tolerating and including folks with extreme views, like today’s caller, breed these threats. Continuing to use language that makes these people feel comfortable and valid will only make our situation worse. When I ask people to ‘speak up,’ these threats are why it is so important. I hope we can all come together after this and actually try to make sure ALL players, staff, and spectators are safe while we enjoy our sport.”

After play resumed, Ryan finished 15th at 13-over par. Estonian Kristin Tattar won the tournament, continuing her dominance on the tour the last two years, 

Throw Sport, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group within the sport also issued a statement.

“It is one thing to disagree, and for something as new to public debate as trans women competing against cis women, it is understandable that people will disagree,” the group stated. “What is more important than whether you disagree is how you do so. Hate and violence have no place anywhere. Everyone deserves better — do better.”

But that message wasn’t clear to one male competitor, who was penalized for lateness. Austin Hanmum used his social media platform to not only blast tour officials but to reveal his transphobia. “AI get stroked today for being 12 seconds late but PDGA is still allowing dudes to play FPO,” Hanmum posted on X. “Get your priorities and shit together @PDGA”

Ryan responded on Instagram, saying Hanmum used :the exact language that led to the threat being made in the first place.” She challenged PDGA to take action: “If you’re serious about everyone’s safety then this needs to end now.”

Ryan followed-up with good news about her success on the disc golf links on Saturday: “I made the cut at the 2024 Champions Cup! I thought I had no shot after being +5 through the first four holes but I was able to focus up and take down a bunch of clutch birdies coming down the stretch. The past few weeks have been wildly stressful for me both with disc golf related things and a few personal problems that have been tiring me out before I even get to the course. I’m currently sitting T15th. I’m hoping I can keep the good play going, ignore the stressors holding me back and play my best! Speak up! Show up!”

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Bi ex-umpire sues Major League Baseball for sexual harassment

Minor League MLB umpire Brandon Cooper claims female ump Gina Quartararo subjected him to harassment and homophobic slurs

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Minor league Arizona Complex League game 2023. (Screenshot/YouTube)

NEW YORK — A fired former umpire is suing Major League Baseball, claiming he was sexually harassed by a female umpire and discriminated against because of his gender and his sexual orientation. 

Brandon Cooper worked in the minor league Arizona Complex League last year, and according to the lawsuit he filed Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan, he identifies as bisexual. 

“I wanted my umpiring and ability to speak for itself and not to be labeled as ‘Brandon Cooper the bisexual umpire,’” he told Outsports. “I didn’t want to be labeled as something. It has been a passion of mine to simply make it to the Major Leagues.”

But that didn’t happen. Instead of being promoted, he was fired. His suit names MLB and an affiliated entity, PDL Blue, Inc., and alleges he had endured a hostile work environment and wrongful termination and/or retaliation because of gender and sexual orientation under New York State and New York City law.

“Historically the MLB has had a homogenous roster of umpires working in both the minor and major leagues,” Cooper claims in his suit. “Specifically, to date there has never been a woman who has worked in a (regular) season game played in the majors, and most umpires are still Caucasian men. To try to fix its gender and racial diversity issue, defendants have implemented an illegal diversity quota requiring that women be promoted regardless of merit.”

Cooper claims former umpire Ed Rapuano, now an umpire evaluator, and Darren Spagnardi, an umpire development supervisor, told him in January 2023 that MLB had a hiring quota, requiring that at least two women be among 10 new hires.

According to the suit, Cooper was assigned to Spring Training last year and was notified by the senior manager of umpire administration, Dusty Dellinger, that even though he received a high rating in June from former big league umpire Jim Reynolds, now an umpire supervisor, that women and minority candidates had to be hired first. 

Cooper claims that upon learning Cooper was bi, fellow umpire Gina Quartararo insulted him and fellow umpire Kevin Bruno by using homophobic slurs and crude remarks. At that time, Quartararo and Cooper worked on the same umpiring crew and being evaluated for possible promotion to the big leagues.

This season, Quartararo is working as an umpire in the Florida State League, one of nine women who are working as minor league umpires.

Cooper said he notified Dellinger, but instead of taking action against Quartararo, he said MLB ordered Cooper to undergo sensitivity training. According to his lawsuit, he was also accused of violating the minor league anti-discrimination and harassment policy.

Cooper’s suit says he met with MLB senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, Billy Bean — who the Los Angeles Blade reported in December is battling cancer. 

The lawsuit says at that meeting, Bean told the umpire that Quartararo claimed she was the victim, as the only female umpire in the ACL. Cooper said he told Bean Quartararo regularly used homophobic slurs and at one point physically shoved him. He also claims that he has video evidence, texts and emails to prove his claim. 

But he said his complaints to Major League Baseball officials were ignored. His lawsuit said MLB passed him over for the playoffs and fired him in October. He said of the 26 umpires hired with Cooper, he was the only one let go.

Through a spokesperson, MLB declined to comment on pending litigation. Quartararo has also not publicly commented on the lawsuit.

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