The Los Angeles Dodgers are ramping it up for Pride Night by honoring a troupe of drag queens dressed as “nuns” even as Major League Baseball tries to dial it back.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the league previously advised clubs not to adorn players’ uniforms with visible LGBTQ-themed logos as teams have done in the past, citing objections from the athletes.
“We have told teams in terms of actual uniforms, hats, bases that we don’t think putting logos on them is a good idea just because of the desire to protect players and not putting them in a position of doing something that may make them uncomfortable because of their personal views,” Mr. Manfred told reporters at his Thursday press briefing, as reported by Yahoo Sports.
The directive is already having an impact. The Tampa Bay Rays marked the team’s 17th Annual Pride Night on June 10 with rainbow-colored signage, including a message on the right-field wall saying “Baseball is for Everyone,” But the players did not wear special uniforms or themed insignia.
Last year, five Tampa Bay Rays pitchers made headlines when they refused to don the Pride Night jerseys and caps featuring rainbow patches, citing religious objections.
“MLB informed teams during the offseason that they could only change their gameday uniforms for league-wide observances like Jackie Robinson Day, except for two teams (Dodgers and Giants) granted exemptions based on a pre-existing agreement, and Pride Night is considered a local event,” said MLB.com.
All but one of the 30 MLB teams are holding Pride Night games this month – the exception being the Texas Rangers – but the focus has been on the Dodgers for their decision to give the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence the team’s Community Hero Award at Friday night’s game.
A who’s-who of Catholic bishops, organizations and political leaders have denounced the move, condemning the self-described “order of queer and trans nuns” as an anti-Catholic hate group best known for its often-bawdy parodies of the church’s religious beliefs and rituals.
Pro-Catholic groups such as Catholics for Catholics plan to hold a “prayerful procession” and rally on Friday afternoon ahead of the game at the Dodgers’ stadium parking lot.
“Let’s be clear: The Los Angeles Dodgers is an organization that glorifies bigotry, making a mockery of their professed interest in tolerance and inclusion,” said Bill Donohoe, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, in a Friday statement.
Lawmakers blasting the team include former Vice President Mike Pence; Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican; Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican, and former Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.
Rubio ad slamming Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence rejected by station airing Dodgers game
“The so-called Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are not community heroes. They are nothing more than an anti-Catholic hate group,” Rubio stated. pic.twitter.com/YTs9OexbJ0
— RGAr152.0 (@rgar152) June 16, 2023
Mr. Rubio, whose TV ad blasting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was reportedly rejected by the local sports broadcasting network, and CatholicVote President Brian Burch accused the Dodgers of a religious double-standard.
“Would anyone tolerate a group that portrayed the prophet Muhammad as a drag queen? Or a striptease at the Western Wall in Jerusalem? Of course not,” the two men said in a Friday op-ed in The Federalist. “But now, when pro-abortion extremists are already unleashing a wave of violent attacks on Catholics around the country, the Dodgers have made it clear that anti-Catholicism is not only an acceptable form of bigotry, but laudable.”
Several players have publicly disagreed with the team’s decision, including Dodgers pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Blake Treinen, and Washington Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams.
“It’s a privilege to play this game and I’m thankful for everyone who’s given me an opportunity, but when I die, hopefully in a state of grace, and St. Peter greets me at the gates, he’s not going to ask what your win-loss record was in 2023, he’s going to ask, ‘How did you build the kingdom of heaven?’” the Nationals pitcher said in a video interview with EWTN.
Meanwhile, a coalition of LGBTQ groups led by GLAAD said that the faux Sisters “belong in the Dodgers’ stadium and are deserving of recognition.”
“The Sisters have served their community for decades, bringing ‘flamboyant hilarity to serious causes’ including supporting people with HIV, fighting for justice and equality, feeding the hungry, finding shelter for the unhoused, and raising more than a million dollars for charity, with grace, humor and uncommon compassion,” the groups said in a Friday statement.
Call to Action, a progressive Catholic group, blamed the pushback on “right-wing extremists.”
“Catholic organizations are wrong in pitting women religious against the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” said Call to Action in a June 12 statement. “Both groups have done necessary work in communities pushed to the margins.”
The Dodgers apologized for disinviting the group last month and praised “the lifesaving work that they have done tirelessly for decades.” The team also announced that it would bring back Christian Family and Faith Day after a pandemic-related hiatus.