The Tide Turns

February 26, 2014 11:00 a.m.

Analysis by anecdote is always a treacherous thing. But sometimes you can see when the tide of opinion and the history is palpably turning. This morning soon-to-be NFLer Michael Sam poked fun at the publicity seeking GOP lobbyist who wants to push a bill banning gay players from the NFL. A has-been PGA golfer made a doofus anti-gay remark about Sam on Twitter and now looks poised to get fined by the PGA for making the organization look bad. And this all comes amidst reports out of Arizona that basically everyone is turning against the “go ahead and hate on gays” bill that now sits on the Governor’s desk, including a good number of the people who passed it in the first place. Even Fox is now wondering whether the right’s new ‘religious liberty’ bills might not be an overreaction.

It now seems quite likely that Gov. Brewer will veto SB 1062. But what’s more revealing is confidence of the pro-equality forces and the palpable sense that the antis are wrong-footed and even laughable. It’s also notable that while Sam is changing the calculus on gay men in professional sports the NFL is one key driver enlisting the Arizona business community in opposing the bill because they don’t want to lose the Super Bowl. So even if there’s some isolated carping, especially from old schoolers in the league, the League itself as a business, which is of course fundamentally what it is, is lining up on the side of inclusion.

Two weeks ago it was the new the bright idea to rebrand anti-gay bigotry as ‘religious liberty’. Antis were stoked; pros were steaming. But now the whole thing appears to have collapsed under the weight of its own ridiculousness in Arizona – and not just it’s ridiculousness but the fact that resisting the changing mores of acceptance and equality is bad business and bad politics.

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