Here at Blue Line Station, we don’t like to get involved in political issues, or any other issues other than hockey. Adam and Zach Best, as well as Frank Rekas, brought me here to write about the New York Rangers. You guys come here to read about the New York Rangers. You certainly don’t care about my views on food, politics, religion, or any other topic not related to hockey. However, there comes a time where two different topics cross paths, and this instance is so blatantly stupid that I feel it must be addressed, especially since it does concern the Rangers and Sean Avery.
Remember when Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy claimed that “it was a stretch” for me to say that Avery would be ridiculed for his decision to openly support gay marriage? Well, although my comment was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it looks like I wasn’t too far off. The above picture is a tweet from Uptown Sports, who represent, among others, Mike Fisher, Kyle Clifford, Chris Neil, and Andrew Brunette. Todd Reynolds, the VP of Uptown Sports, is the one who specifically wrote the tweet. Well, safe to say, the backlash has been pretty enormous. It got to the point where TSN 1050 Radio in Canada brought Todd Reynolds on the air, so he could tell the world that he is “not a bigot” and “doesn’t hate anybody.” He was clearly more interested in making himself a victim than defending what he had to say. Todd’s main concern was that it would “ruin the sanctity of marriage.” Listen, if there ever was truly a “sanctity” within marriage, Larry King and Britney Spears have absolutely destroyed it single-handedly. Divorce rates in the US have broken 50%. There’s nothing that gay marriage could do to “ruin the sanctity of marriage” and saying that is really just a euphemism for “I’m a homophobe and not comfortable with it.” Well guess what, I’m not comfortable with you making of million dollars by simply negotiating hockey players salaries while plenty of hard working people are scraping by, but I respect your constitutional and inherent rights to do what you want to do with your life. Let everyone else live their lives just like we let you and get the hell over it.
If you’re looking for a response from the Rangers to this, well, they sort of beat you to the punch. Nick Montemagno over at Rangers Tribune shows us an e-mail he got from the Human Rights Campaign claiming that the New York Rangers have officially become “the first NHL franchise to support marriage equality.” Thanks to Nick for posting it and allowing us to use it. Here’s their official press release:
NHL’s New York Rangers Promote Marriage Equality; First Sports Team to Rally Behind Gay Issue
Further proof that America is at a historic tipping point on gay rights issues – and specifically marriage — came today in the form of two tweets and a Facebook post from an unexpected ally: the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers. The Rangers become the first professional sports team to actively promote marriage equality by advancing a video released on Saturday in favor of marriage equality in New York State by Rangers player Sean Avery. Earlier today, the team tweeted about it and posted news of it on their Facebook page. Madison Square Garden, the home of the Rangers, later re-tweeted the Rangers’ message.
Sean Avery’s video was the subject of this story in Sunday’s New York Times. Avery is currently in his fifth season with the New York Rangers and helped take the team to the 2011 playoffs. The New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign is centered on video testimonials from New Yorkers who support the right of committed same-sex couples to marry. To date, HRC has released over 30 videos from a diverse group of New Yorkers ranging from Barbara Bush to Julianne Moore.
The fact that a professional sports team – and from the rough and tumble game of hockey, no less — would be willing to support marriage equality is clear indication that there’s growing support for LGBT equality issues across the board. Over the last month, three different polls have indicated that a majority of Americans now support marriage equality. In New York, a poll recently released by the Siena Research Institute shows public support for marriage equality at 58 percent. No doubt that there are battles ahead, but today, history was made.
Good for the Rangers. They might be the first but they certainly won’t be the last. Brian Burke, GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, had his gay son die in a car accident and Brian has done a lot to support the cause since. Paul “Biznasty” Bissonnette already decided to come out and support Avery. I expect this to get pretty messy for Uptown Sports and the players it represents. That’s the irony in Todd Reynolds making these comments. In trying to deter gay marriage, he just sparked what very well could become a big part of a movement that goes against his wishes. I’m sure the players Uptown Sports represent are happy that they’ll now be forced to become part of this and make a statement concerning their representative’s comments.