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With MLB embroiled in Pride controversy, a pair of Jewish players speak up

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Though all but one Major League Baseball team participates in Pride Month and several sell merchandise for the occasion, the league’s players have been relatively less supportive, with some saying that celebrating LGBTQ people conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Clayton Kershaw, for example, the Dodgers ace pitcher, criticized his team’s decision to honor  the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a charity founded in 1979 that riffs on Catholic nuns to draw attention to religious intolerance and affirm queer identity — at the Team’s Pride Night on June 16.

The past two weeks saw Kershaw’s complaint, the team’s decision to invite, disinvite and then reinvite the Sisters to the ballpark, and the fast-tracking of a relaunch of the Dodger’s Christian Life and Family Day. 

On Tuesday, two Jewish players stepped into this culture war whirlwind with a pair of public statements offering unqualified support for the LGBTQ community.

Responding to a tweet posted by baseball writer Bradford William Davis inviting MLB players to publicly support the Sisters, Rob Kaminsky, a reliever who last pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2020 and is now in the Seattle Mariners’ minor-league system, wrote, “I’m a MiLB [Minor League Baseball] player, but I fully support the LGBTQ community,” adding a thumbs-up emoji.

I’m a MiLB player, but I fully support the LGBTQ community 👍🏼

— Rob Kaminsky (@Kaminsky21) May 30, 2023

Journeyman righthander Robert Stock, now with the Milwaukee Brewers’ AAA affiliate, also opined on the matter on Twitter, writing, “On LGBT night we need to accommodate the institution that’s been doing their best to eradicate LGBT acceptance for centuries (and still to this day)? Nahhh we really don’t.”

The controversy began May 15 when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wrote a public letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that called the Dodgers’ plan to honor the Sisters with its Community Hero Award — given for the organization’s decades of raising money and awareness for LGBTQ causes — an “outrage and a tragedy” because of the group’s lampooning of Christian ritual and belief. Among the practices Rubio cited were the Sisters’ motto — “Go and sin some more,” a play on Jesus’ “Go and sin no more” — and pub crawls that reference the Stations of the Cross.

Bowing to this pressure, the Dodgers announced on May 17 that they had pulled the honor and were disinviting the Sisters from the event. But Pride communities across the country condemned the Dodgers’ decision, and when two local Pride groups publicly withdrew from the event in support of the Sisters, the story made national headlines. On May 22, the Dodgers reversed course again, apologizing to the Sisters and reinviting them.

Still, the controversy wasn’t over. Four days later, Kershaw announced the relaunching of Christian Faith and Family Day at Dodger Stadium on his personal Twitter account. While he made no reference to the Pride event, Kershaw — former MVP, three-time Cy Young Award winner and nine-time all-star — confirmed a connection to the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

Kershaw told the Times that while he had no issue with the LGBTQ community, he opposed the Dodgers’ decision to honor the Sisters because, he said, “I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions. It has nothing to do with anything other than that.”

The Hall of Fame-bound pitcher is hardly the first major leaguer to express displeasure with his team’s Pride participation. When the Tampa Bay Rays elected to wear caps with a rainbow team logo last year, five players refused to participate. 

Subsequently, Mark Canha, an outfielder then with the New York Mets, told local sports network SNY that he was in the minority in MLB when it came to LGBTQ acceptance.

The Jewish pitchers who entered the fray both suited up for Israel at this year’s World Baseball Classic.

One reply to Stock’s post Tuesday asked him whether he would feel the same if the Sisters brutally mocked Judaism.

Stock’s reply came one minute later: “If my group was anti-LGBT and they turned around and made fun of me, I would not be upset about it.”

The post With MLB embroiled in Pride controversy, a pair of Jewish players speak up appeared first on The Forward.

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