Right-wing Christians plan to protest the Dallas Cowboys signing of Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL player.
The outside linebacker was cut last week by the St. Louis Rams, which had drafted him in the seventh round out of the University of Missouri, and picked up by the defense-starved Cowboys.
He will join the team’s practice squad if he passes a physical exam.
The move angered anti-LGBT Christians, who had threatened to boycott the Rams before Sam was released.
“We cannot just stand idly by as Christian values and morals are trampled,” said Jack Burkman, the GOP lobbyist working to keep Sam out of the NFL. “We will do whatever we can to preserve family values in this country.”
Burkman has drafted legislation barring gay players from the NFL, but his brother said his efforts were a publicity stunt to draw clients to his lobbying firm.
“I think the idea that he is pushing legislation that is just hurtful and ridiculous is just plain stupid,” said Jim Burkman, an anesthesiologist who is openly gay. “He is not a legislator and he can’t really push legislation. I don’t think there are any cosponsors for a bill. It is just an attention grab and a media grab to pander to those folks who pay him to lobby on their behalf.”
The conservative lobbyist claims his threatened boycott would have cost the Rams “tens of millions of dollars,” a fate he said now awaits Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“Jerry Jones has betrayed American values, Christian values, and his own city’s values,” Burkman said. “The people of Dallas – and Christians all across this land – are about to make him pay a huge financial price. The Cowboys are no longer America’s team.”
Fan reaction in Dallas has been mixed, reported KTVT-TV, with some recognizing the team’s defense needs all the help it can get, but others are uncomfortable rooting for a gay player.
“I don’t want my kids looking up to me and say, ‘Daddy, what does that mean that he’s gay?’” one fan said during a radio call-in show.
Demonstrators plan to gather outside AT&T Stadium to protest Sam’s signing.
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