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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 16, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 50
NBA union contract adds 'sexual orientation' to nondiscrimination language
Section One
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NBA union contract adds 'sexual orientation' to nondiscrimination language

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The NBA ended the lockout of its players on December 8 with a new, Gay-friendly union contract.

The collective bargaining agreement ratified by the NBA's Board of Governors includes, for the first time, language protecting players from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

'I am pleased to announce that we have concluded the collective bargaining process and have reached an agreement that addresses many significant issues that were challenges to our league,' said NBA Commissioner David Stern.

'This collective bargaining agreement will help us move toward a better business model, a more competitive league, and better alignment between compensation and performance.'

Major League Baseball announced a similar move in November. The National Football League added the same language to its union contract earlier this year.

The NBA already has protected sexual orientation in its collective bargaining agreement with its own employees.

'Players should be judged on their skill and drive on the basketball court, not their sexual orientation,' said Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, a national organization committed to ending all career discrimination.

If a player were to face harassment or workplace retaliation after coming out, the non-discrimination provisions in the new union contract will create legally enforceable protections, Almeida said.

However, he added, 'these protections are unfortunately still missing in federal law as well as the state laws in a majority of states in our country.'

Sixteen of the 30 NBA teams are in states where it is legal to fire or harass a player just for being Gay. Two such teams participated in the 2011 Finals - the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat.

'The NBA now joins leading Fortune 500 companies and the vast majority of Americans who believe that Gay people should have the same opportunities to work and live freely as who they are,' said Mike Thompson, acting president of GLAAD.

'This decision shows that homophobia has no place on the court or in the game and we hope that local, college, and high school teams follow this important example.'

In a press release, GLAAD congratulated the NBA on its initiatives 'to place the sport of basketball near the forefront of a changing sports landscape, in terms of LGBT inclusion.'

'From significant fines (and LGBT-supportive statements) following anti-Gay epithets, to its public partnerships with us and other LGBT advocacy organizations, to the appearances by Grant Hill and Jared Dudley in a wonderful ad campaign from GLSEN, to its support of now-openly Gay former Phoenix Suns CEO Rick Welts, to Shaquille O'Neal's appearance in our 'Amplify Your Voice' campaign, to Ray Allen's support for an anti-bullying advocate, the NBA and commissioner David Stern have proven themselves to be strong allies to the LGBT community,' GLAAD said.

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