The St. Louis Cardinals have drawn ire from several LGBT voices for embracing former player Lance Berkman and allowing him to speak July 30 at Busch Stadium for the team’s “Christian Day.”
Pride Center of St. Louis blasted the Cardinals’ decision in a statement issued to the online LGBT magazine, Outsports, calling Berkman “an individual whose words and actions towards the LGBT (community) are divisive and demeaning.”
Two years ago, Berkman strongly opposed an equal-rights ordinance in Houston that prohibited discrimination based on gender, race, religion, pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity. Berkman specifically took aim at the transgender community by saying as a father of four daughters, he did not want “troubled men to enter women’s bathrooms, showers and locker rooms.” The ordinance ultimately failed.
In response to the backlash, the Cardinals issued a statement to media outlets emphasizing its forthcoming LGBT Pride Night. The organization also said that it has “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.
“We are an inclusive organization with a social responsibility to be welcoming to all types of people and organizations,” the statement read.
In 2015, Cardinals minor-league pitcher Tyler Dunnington quit baseball after detailing consistent homophobic slurs made by teammates and coaches in the dugout. Dunnington said in a statement to KMOV St. Louis that “hopefully, in the future, (the Cardinals) will reconsider giving a platform to someone who thinks tolerance is a bad thing.”
Back in 2015, Berkman defended his stance on transgender individuals in a radio interview by saying that society has become too tolerant of people’s differences.
“You get called a bigot and intolerant and all that stuff,” he said in the radio interview. “To me, tolerance is the virtue that’s killing this country. We’re tolerant of everything.”
Berkman’s bathroom argument coincides with the perspective of many lawmakers and politicians who believe bathrooms usage should be based on biological sex, not gender identity. The most prevalent example came with North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which cost the state millions of dollars from event cancellations — including the NBA All-Star Game and NCAA tournament. The state’s rescinded bill, House Bill 142, still disavows an anti-discrimination ordinance for businesses in the state.