Portland Timbers Pride Tifo

Portland Timbers and Thorns Endorse Marriage Equality

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Portland Timbers Pride TifoThe Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns have become the first professional sports teams in the nation to endorse a marriage equality ballot measure.

Oregon United for Marriage along with other groups are currently in the process of collecting the voter signatures needed to put marriage equality on the November 2014 ballot.

The Timbers and Thorns organization announced the endorsement with a statement from owner Merritt Paulson: “We are proud to support Oregon United for Marriage and its efforts to secure the freedom to marry for all Oregonians next November.” They also released the following video on the Oregon United for Marriage YouTube page:

The Chicago Fire currently work with Equality Illinois, who are working through the legislature for marriage equality. Adidas America joined with Oregon United for Marriage this week as well.

You can sign onto a message thanking the Timbers, Thorns, and NBA’s Trailblazers on the Oregon United for Marriage website.

Tasha Kai USOC

USOC Adds Sexual Orientation to Non-Discrimination Policy

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Tasha Kai USOC

Tasha Kai shows off her 2008 gold medal

The US Olympic Committee (USOC) announced Friday that its board voted to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy.

The USOC was under a great deal of pressure from both athletes and lawmakers to protect gay and lesbian athletes ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where laws are in place that punish what is viewed as pro-gay propaganda. The amended bylaw reads:

The USOC is committed to honesty and integrity as the cornerstone of our activities. In turn, the USOC expects you to conduct yourself in an ethical and legal manner as a representative of the USOC. This requires you to:

 

* Respect the rights of all individuals to fair treatment and equal opportunity, free from discrimination or harassment of any type, including, without limitation discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin or otherwise.

While openly stating opposition to the law, the USOC states that they will not advocate for its changing. They are inquiring with the International Olympic Committee about how IOC rules against political speech affect athletes who have already been vocal about the laws in place in Russia. The IOC does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its non-discrimination policies.

Gay and lesbian soccer players from Robbie Rogers to Tasha Kai and from Megan Rapinoe to Abby Wambach have represented the United States at the past few Olympic games.

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Abby Wambach and Sarah Huffman Wed in Hawaii

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Abby Wambach Sarah HuffmanAbby Wambach and Sarah Huffman got married in a ceremony in Hawaii this past weekend, multiple sources such as TMZ are now reporting.

Ok, for many of this isn’t news. We’ve known this was happening for awhile now. Heck, I did a Google search back in July when Huffman publicly came out while signing on with Athlete Ally that resulted in their online wedding registry.

(My personal favorite item? The bottle opener in the shape of a bulldog’s head.)

We were waiting until one of them said something about the wedding until we did. We wanted to respect what they clearly wanted to be a private affair. But news of the ceremony has been coming out (as it were) for days now, and we can’t help but share in their joy and wish them the best.

Fox Soccer blogged about it last Friday, reporting on the confluence of US Women’s National Team members in Hawaii. Heather Mitts tweeted congratulations Saturday.

Now media outlets across the globe are picking up the story from TMZ and spreading the news of what is likely the soccer wedding of the year (sorry Jay and Ashleigh).

So congratulations to Abby and Sarah. May your married life together be happy and blessed.

Update: On behalf of Sarah and herself, Abby thanked fans Wednesday afternoon:

National Anthem Chicago Fire Isaiah Grass

Local Artists Rock Chicago Fire Pride Night

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National Anthem Chicago Fire Isaiah GrassThe result on the field may have been a 2-2 draw with the Montreal Impact, but the Chicago Fire made sure their annual Pride Night was a success beyond the scoreline.

Local musicians featured heavily in the evening, both performing at a special pregame concert and singing the national anthems for the crowd at Toyota Park and watching on the MLS Stream of the Week.

Singer and actress Jess Godwin was tapped with singing “O Canada.” Her latest music video addresses bullying and using the arts as an outlet for social issues.

Isaiah Grass, named to a list of the “Best of Gay Chicago” in 2011, took on the “Star Spangled Banner”

Kudos to the Chicago Fire for putting on another great Pride Night, with proceeds benefitting Equality Illinois’ fight for marriage equality!

The Fire trounced DC United 3-0 on the road this past weekend.

You Can Play Brown University

You Can Play Goes Back to School with the Ivy League

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You Can Play Brown UniversityThe You Can Play Project has gone back to school with new videos from Ivy League schools Brown University and Dartmouth College.

The soccer programs from each school is represented in the two videos, along with a myriad of other sports programs.

Brown and Dartmouth are two of our nation’s oldest institutions of higher learning, and it’s great to see their student athletes taking a stand on and off the field as they lead the way in the Ivy League.

Here’s the video from Dartmouth released early in September:

And here’s Brown’s video that came out just last week:

Here’s to many more great You Can Play videos from collegiate and pro teams in the coming year!

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DC United Continues Long-Running Pride Night

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For the fourth consecutive year, DC United is holding its annual “United Night Out” this Saturday night for their match against the LA Galaxy.

DC United Night Out

Working with the Federal Triangles Soccer Club, a portion of the Night Out ticket sales will go to support the work of the You Can Play Project. Beyond the match itself, the night will feature a tailgate, the DC Gay Men’s Chorus performing the National Anthem, and the ceremonial coin toss being done by the publisher of the city’s gay newspaper The Blade.

DC along with Chivas USA were the first MLS clubs to hold LGBT Pride Nights back in 2010, and DC has had other firsts reaching out to the community, including being the first MLS team to make a video for You Can Play. They’ve participated in DC Pride for the last five years with the Federal Triangles, and last year won the Team DC Community Partner of the Year Award for all of the work they have done.

DC United was one of many area sports teams featured in the Blade’s recent sports issue, with Chris Pontius saying that if there was an out player “we would accept a person for who they are. As a player you accept them as they are as a player.”

You can get tickets for United Night Out at unitednightout.com.

Chicago Fire Pride Night 2013

Chicago Fire Announces 2013 Pride Night

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Chicago Fire Pride Night 2013The Chicago Fire have announced their 2013 Pride Night at Toyota Park for their September 28 match against the Montreal Impact.

The Fire is partnering this year with both Equality Illinois and the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association, the largest non profit gay and lesbian athletics organization in the Midwest. Together they’re putting together quite a night. Beyond a discounted rate, tickets also get admission to a pregame tailgate and concert featuring Chicago recording artists Isaiah Grass and Jess Godwin. Grass has been recognized by Best Gay Chicago and Godwin’s lyrics tackle issues such as bullying so it’s great that they’re part of the night. And if you’re worried about getting out to Bridgeview, twelve dollars more gets you transportation to and from Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood.

Best of all, the Chicago Fire is once again donating a portion of each ticket’s cost to Equality Illinois, explicitly stating that the team is behind the fight for marriage equality. Wow.

You can get tickets for Pride Night at the Chicago Fire website and RSVP to the event at their Facebook page.

Robbie Rogers Olympics

Robbie Rogers Advocates Against Winter Olympics Boycott

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Robbie Rogers OlympicsAs a former Olympian himself, Robbie Rogers has gotten a lot of questions about calls to boycott the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi after Russian crackdowns on the LGBT community. To answer everyone at once, he has penned a column for USA Today about the issue.

…I couldn’t imagine supporting a boycott of the Sochi Olympics that would deny any fellow athletes the opportunity to do what I did then: to compete against the world’s best, to fulfill the dream of a lifetime, to set an example for the world, to make our friends, families, and country proud of our accomplishments. I also couldn’t imagine telling an athlete not to boycott if that’s what he or she thinks is best.

Beyond his statements about Sochi, Rogers talks about the Galaxy’s recent trip to Miami for the International Champions Cup tournament. At one of their meals as a team, the subject of his sexuality came up: what it’s like to date guys and what it’s like to go to a gay bar. He compares that moment to what it will be like for out athletes and allies to go to Russia and have an opportunity to expose folks there to some exceptional members of the world LGBT community and have conversations.

You can read Robbie Rogers’ complete column at the USA Today website.

Michael Bradley and AS Roma Take on Chelsea FC

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It was an interesting night at RFK stadium for a seemingly meaningless friendly between two clubs from different nations, competing for no pre-season trophy, in a nation not traditionally known for its football passions. However, 25,000 people showed up to see Michael Bradley’s AS Roma take on Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side for what would turn out to be a fairly entertaining match.

As to be expected, all eyes were on the only American on the pitch,Michael Bradley, with fans eager to see how he’d match up against Chelsea’s world-class midfield including players such as John Obi Mikel, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Andre Schurrle, Kevin De Bruyne, and Michael Essien. You could tell Bradley was perhaps a bit over-excited, over-doing things on the dribble on multiple occasions. His eagerness to dribble out of danger was a bit comical several times, as he was in fact in space, and only looked silly and out of his depth. However, as a whole, he didn’t put in a terrible performance. His passing was effectual, and he put in a few great tackles to help his side defensively.

Chelsea were the real entertainers on the evening, with several players creating chances in on goal. Fernando Torres was quite lively while on the pitch, almost going in on goal with a clever series of back-heel juggles over the defense. Chelsea’s knew signing, veteran keeper Mark Schwartzer let in an absolute howler of a goal in the first half, as he mis-trapped a pass which then hit the post, only to be finished by Erik Lamela.

A second-half wonder-strike by Frank Lampard and a tap-in by Romelu Lukaku ensured victory for the English side, who were in truth the better performers on the night. After the match, Bradley spoke of the importance of playing in these type of friendlies against quality opponents to prepare for the start of the Serie A campaign. Bradley also mentioned the upcoming international friendlies as a chance for players to get in some last minute match fitness before rejoining their club squads. When I asked Bradley about whether or not he’d be traveling to Bosnia he replied “the players who will be traveling for the friendly should be notified by tomorrow whether or not they’ll be meeting up with the team.”

Having since been named to the squad for the Bosnia match, hopefully Bradley can add some much-needed leadership and experience to a relatively inexperienced USA squad.

MLS All Stars Don't Cross the Line

MLS All Stars Fall to AS Roma 3-1

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MLS All Stars Don't Cross the LineAS Roma defeated the MLS All Stars 3-1 in the 2013 Major League Soccer All Star Game last night at Sporting Park in Kansas City.

Roma seemed out to prove anyone who thought they would come in and treat this like a preseason match they could sit back in wrong. They came out hard in the first half with an early goal and a few more close calls that stymied the MLS defense. MLS possession fell and fell throughout the half but they were able to hold Roma to a 1-0 lead when the first 45 came to a close.

Things didn’t improve in the second half with another quick Roma goal, an another one they easily slipped in at the 69th minute. MLS took more chances, but things were easily defended by the Italian team. Nick Rimando was the second half goalkeeper, and the skills we saw throughout the Gold Cup were on display keeping the Roma score from rising even further. Another bright spot in the second half was the injection of MLS youth into the game, with some bright moments from the All Stars’ youngest players DeAndre Yedlin and Jack McInerney. MLS had a final gasp in second half stoppage time with Omar Gonzalez scoring off of a free kick making the final score AS Roma 3 – MLS All Stars 1.

Beyond the loss, the message echoed in the post game press conference is what makes All Star Game week so special. It goes far past the game to players who are normally competitors sharing time together as teammates. It’s about a great soccer city like Kansas City showing off what they can put together. And it’s about all of us who are part of the Major League Soccer family coming together to celebrate the sport we love and where it has come in America over the last 17 years.

Here are a few motion pictures of the pregame show at Sporting Park last night (click images for motion):

 

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