Yesterday Major League Baseball sent word that it has a new labor agreement in place with the Major League Baseball Players Association -- this one, good for five years. It hasn't been signed yet; Tuesday's announcement, which follows, details the memorandum of understanding that will formally replace the current collective bargaining agreement that expires next month. But you'll note, for the first time ever the MLB has added "non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation." Which, for Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager at the Resource Center Dallas, is a very, very big deal.
A few weeks ago, as you'll see in the package of letters that follows, McDonnell sent a missive to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball Players Association exec director Matthew Weiner asking them to "both please add sexual orientation nondiscrimination provisions to MLB's new CBA, and encourage each team owner that has previously not done so to add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression nondiscrimination protections to their team's employment nondiscrimination policies." McDonnell said he was asking not just because the NFL, NHL and MLS already do this, but because he's been a Texas Rangers fan since 1972.
MLB officials to whom I spoke this morning said they've actually been talking about adding the protections clause for months -- ever since April, when Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell shot off those homophobic comments at a game in San Francisco. McDonnell says that incident, coupled with the NFL's new policy, led him to see what other pro sports leagues were doing to protect their gay players.
"I'm a policy nerd," says McDonnell, who took a very active role in getting similar protections enacted at Dallas ISD and Dallas County. "Since the American Airlines Center is three miles from where are, I thought I would write NBA Commissioner [David] Stern, and I didn't hear anything. I'm a baseball fan -- have been ever since the Rangers moved here. So I thought, fine, I'll throw my hat in too and say, 'Y'all need to do this.' And they wrote me back."
As you'll see below, on November 3 McDonnell got a note from Robert Manfred Jr., one of MLB's five executive vice presidents; then, a few days later, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig followed up with his own note, which called McDonnell's suggestions "very constructive" and worth passing along. McDonnell couldn't believe it.
"The day I got the letter from Commissioner Selig, my response: 'They wrote me back,'" he says, laughing. "These are busy, important sports guys, and the fact they wrote back to the GLBT center in Dallas is classy. They may indeed have been having these discussions previously -- GLAAD was involved -- but it doesn't hurt to have this discussion. And we all get so jaded about sports and athletes, and for someone to take the time to write a note is an amazing thing."MLB CBA Nondiscrimination