Dodgers Try to Dodge a Bullet
We live in incredibly polarized political times. When pursuing anything that even touches on politics, organizations must proceed with extreme caution — and readiness. The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team gives us yet another example of an organization not doing that, and then having to reverse course.
Up until May 17, the team planned to bestow its Community Hero Award on the L.A. chapter of a group called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The pregame ceremony was to take place on the team’s annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night on June 16. The sisters, founded in San Francisco in 1979, use street performance and humor, with members wearing garb that includes nuns’ habits, to protest bias.
Catholic organizations, including the Catholic League and CatholicVote, objected. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred questioning whether the team was being inclusive by “giving an award to a group of gay and transgender drag performers that intentionally mocks and degrades Christians.”
On May 17, the Dodgers tweeted that, “given the strong feelings of those who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening,” it would now not honor the group.
Naturally, bowing to the backlash caused a backlash. The Los Angeles LGBT Center said the team “caved to a religious minority that is perpetuating a false narrative about L.G.B.T.Q.+ people,” and demanded it reinvite the group or cancel the event altogether. LA Pride, organizers of the LA Pride Parade, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said they would now not participate in Pride Night.
The New York Times’ Scott Miller wrote on May 18 that the force of the blowback caught the Dodgers “off guard,” and that it was “working internally on potential compromise solutions.”
Why the team was caught off guard is a mystery. States are passing anti-drag litigation. The team had the recent example of Bud Light, which still finds itself embroiled — and experiencing sales declines — after it had trans activist and social-media influencer Dylan Mulvaney do an Instagram promotional spot. Again, any politically controversial move will make one constituency or another unhappy.
On Monday this week, we got the results of the internal machinations. The Dodgers, “after much thoughtful feedback from our diverse communities,” announced it had apologized to the sisters and reinvited the group to the event. The sisters accepted. The team said it viewed the incident as a learning experience, that it would “continue to work with our LGBTQ+ partners to better educate ourselves.”
The team deleted the tweet in which it originally announced it was rescinding the invitation.
Photo credit: L.A. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence via Facebook
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