In a move that is being hailed as a step forward in establishing a baseline for LGBT inclusivity in sports, a sexual orientation nondiscrimination clause has reportedly been added to Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.
Article XV, Section A of MLB’s expiring Basic Agreement, in effect from 2006-2011, states: “The provisions of this Agreement shall be applied to all Players covered by this Agreement without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”
In the new agreement, the words “sexual orientation” were added to Article XV. Michael Weiner, the union’s executive director, said that the decision was not motivated by requests from his membership, but by “the lawyers on both sides just recognizing that it should be there.”
After the NFL added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy, Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas wrote a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig calling for pro baseball to follow suit, reports the Dallas Voice. McDonnell received responses from both Selig and MLB Executive Vice President Robert Manfred Jr.
“While it is my policy not to comment on matters currently on the table, I think it is safe to say the issue you have raised will be addressed in a positive way,” Manfred wrote to McDonnell, the Voice reports.
McDonnell has also written a letter to the National Basketball Association asking that they follow suit. So far he has not received a response.
This follows the NFL in August quietly making its bargaining agreement sexual orientation inclusive. As in the case of the NFL, this change to the MLB agreement effects managerial, Club and administrative decisions only. It does not strictly prohibit discriminatory behavior between players which would fall under different provisions that have yet to be amended, though managerial oversight would seem to give some scope to preventing discrimination among players.
While several MLB teams have released “It Gets Better” videos, there are still no publicly out gay players in the game. This has been blamed, in part, on the wider taboo of male homosexuality in sports. It is hoped that, as more and more sporting organizations take steps to show they will not tolerate homophobia in the game, this problem will be eroded.
It was announced on Wednesday that MLB unions and owners have indeed signed the collective bargaining agreement. The agreement also makes MLB the first pro major league in North America to conduct blood tests for human growth hormone.