Seattle NFL, MLB, MLS Teams Join Forces To Support Human Rights, LGBT Equality
Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 03:54PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Athlete Ally, Human Rights, LGBT, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders, Seattle Storm

By Barry Janoff

June 21, 2017: In what will be seen as a historic day in sports, five pro teams in Seattle came together this week in "a coordinated effort to celebrate LGBT equality."

With members of MLB’s Seattle Mariners, the NFL Seattle Seahawks, MLS Sounders FC, WNBA Seattle Storm and National Women’s Soccer League Reign FC in attendance, it marked "the first time that a city’s professional sports teams have partnered together in such an endeavor to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community," according to Athlete Ally, which organized the media conference and supporting activation.

"The Seattle sports community continues to demonstrate the power of sport in standing up and speaking out for LGBT equality," said Hudson Taylor, executive director for Athlete Ally, a non-profit organization whose mission is to "educate and activate athletic communities to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in sports and to exercise their leadership to champion LGBT equality."

"This effort is once again proving that the athletic community won’t be sidelined in the fight for LGBT equality on the field and under the law," said Taylor.

The media event, held on Tuesday (June 20) in The Ninety, the Sounders FC's event space, was part of a larger, on-going effort to bring the challenges facing the LGBT community to the public.

Named as Athlete Ally ambassadors were Brad Evans and Chad Marshall (Sounders FC), Madalyn Schiffel and Lauren Barnes (Reign FC), Sue Bird (Storm) and James Paxton (Mariners).

Athlete Ally said that more than 150 pro and Olympic athletes "have committed to using their platform to champion LGBT equality."

"The good news is that we’re witnessing the greatest expansion of athletic activism in history," said Taylor. "Never before have we seen athletes, teams and leagues speak out so regularly for LGBT equality.

"The launch of today’s partnership with the Seattle sports community is just another sign that the athletic community will no longer ‘stick to sports'."

The Mariners annual Pride Game, scheduled for June 22, will see the team partner with the Greater Seattle Business Assn. and T-Mobile on a special event that includes a ticket special, rainbow Mariners cap and pre-game mixer.

A portion of the tickets sold through the special offer will benefit the GSBA Scholarship Program, which supports LGBT and ally students from the state of Washington.

Some of GSBA’s 2017 scholars will be honored during a pre-game ceremony, scheduled to include Billy Bean, who is leading MLB’s diversity and inclusion efforts. T-Mobile will present the GSBA Scholarship Fund with a $10,000 donation during the pregame ceremony.

"We are stronger and better when we come together, whether it’s a sports team or our community," John Stanton, Seattle Mariners CEO, said in a statement. "The Mariners are proud to join with the Reign, Seahawks, Sounders, Storm and Athlete Ally to take a stand in support of equality and inclusion."

The Seattle Storm’s annual Pride Night is scheduled for June 23 (vs. the Phoenix Mercury).

Supported by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Storm will be handing out rainbow Thunderstix, while Pride flags and tank tops will also be available for purchase in the Team Shop;

Athlete Ally will be selling a limited supply of "Equality is a Team Sport" T-shirts.

"It’s not just impactful to use professional sports platforms to promote equality, it is our responsibility," Storm president and GM Alisha Valavanis said a statement. “We are honored to lock arms with the Mariners, Reign, Seahawks and the Sounders in Seattle to demonstrate our collective commitment to equality and human rights.

"This special event beautifully illustrates our city’s values and leadership in the space of equality, inclusion and diversity.”

Seattle Reign FC’s Pride match presented by Carter Subaru is scheduled for June 24 (vs. FC Kansas City).

Reign FC is partnering with the Greater Seattle Business Association by donating a portion of proceeds from a special ticket offer to the GSBA Scholarship Fund.

A variety of activities are planned throughout the match, including a national anthem performance by Sensible Shoes, an ensemble part of the Seattle Women’s Chorus, one of the largest LGBTQ-identified women’s choruses in the world.

"Our partnership with the Seattle professional sports community comes at a critical moment in the continued fight for equality and acceptance," said Athlete Ally’s Taylor.

"Across the country, we continue to watch LGBT people be discriminated against, whether it’s through anti-LGBT legislation that’s being introduced, or inconsistent athletic policies that exclude and other LGBT players, coaches, fans, administrators or officials. It’s clear that our work is just beginning in the fight for LGBT acceptance and protection," said Taylor.

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