During the two-week build-up to Super Bowl XLVII, there are a lot of reporters seeking anything to set themselves apart. On Tuesday, January 29, self-described homophobic radio jock Artie Lange asked NFL cornerback Chris Culliver how he feels about gays as teammates. The interview aired the next day, and by Thursday, January 31, Culliver had to issue an apology while his team scrambled to distance themselves from his comments:
The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris. There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) community.
San Francisco is not only known for tolerance and for having a substantial LGBT community, but they had the first team to support an anti-bullying charity to combat suicides among LGBT youth. Part of their role was getting players to make the kinds of statements reported by the San Jose Mercury News.
But actions speak louder than words. If they really want to make a statement, they could suspend him for the Super Bowl. Taking a player out of the lineup for the most important game of the year says more about the team's stand on this thinking than supporting a charity. They suspended Brandon Jacobs for being overly critical of his bosses, so why not for someone who considers saying someone is unwelcome for being gay "kidding around?"
Because the NFL is about winning. Much of straight America cares more about how he plays football than the hatred he spouts at a group of people they are not comfortable with anyway. Until recently his comments were more likely to be defended than condemned.
The Christian church deserves some blame for this because of their actions. Not only is there is a real lack of condemnation for these types of attitudes, but the reality is Culliver is still more welcome in most churches than those he marginalized.
The church gives sanction to homophobia when it pushes for the rights of gay couples to be restricted but not other marriages that fall outside of God's word as they define it, like those involving pagans, atheists or divorcees. We show it is our agenda (not a homosexual agenda many Christians perceive when our pastors use quotes out of context by President Obama and false information that domestic partnerships hold the same rights as marriages to pass Prop 8 in California.
This needs to be said over and over again: Prop 8 was about marriage and Prop 4 was about death (abortion) in the 2008 election, and the money spent and victory had on just the bill with the goal of blocking gay rights.
Make no mistake that its goal was not to define marriage as God does. If it was not about making a group second-class, a simple rider could have been added assuring that passage of Prop 8 guaranteed every right to LGBT couples afforded the now more narrowly defined married couples.
When you stand with some discrimination, you stand with all discrimination. But the good news is we are not forced to stand in any one place in perpetuity. God does not bind us to our past sins so long as we are repentant. Christianity does not need to condone anything, only condemn these double standards and intolerance that has been previously condoned.