Lobbyist Urges Boycott of Rams, Visa, Over Michael Sam

Right-wing lobbyist Jack Burkman is leading an effort to cut into the business of the team and the credit card issuer, all because they've had the temerity to employ a player who (like Burkman's brother) is openly gay.

BY Trudy Ring

May 15 2014 3:38 PM ET

Jack Burkman (left); Michael Sam

Now that Michael Sam has been drafted by the St. Louis Rams and has an endorsement deal with Visa, right-wing lobbyist Jack Burkman says he’s going through with his plans to lead a boycott of any entity that employs the out gay football player.

In a press release issued this week, the D.C. lobbyist calls on Rams season ticket holders to stay away from games and urges fans not to buy team merchandise. He also says consumers should stop using Visa cards and that anyone who holds Visa stock should sell it.

“Burkman says he unleashed powerful grassroots organizations he assembled in 27 of the 50 states which will lead the boycott efforts,” reads the press release. “And he says he has mobilized a coalition of evangelical Christian leaders from across the nation to join the boycott.”

“Visa and the Rams will learn that when you trample the Christian community and Christian values, there will be a terrible financial price to pay,” he said in the release. “Openly gay football players send a terrible message to our youth about morality. Somebody needs to step up because the moral fiber of the nation is eroding.”

Burkman, who has a gay brother, is also pushing for national legislation that would prohibit professional sports teams from employing any player who “has openly declared himself to be a homosexual.” 

Some LGBT activists and others are unfazed by Burkman’s efforts. “Jack Burkman is someone who cannot be taken seriously,” Human Rights Campaign spokesman Paul Guequierre told International Business Times. “The NFL is ready for an openly gay player and so is America. Jack Burkman is out of touch and a laughingstock.  His boycott will go nowhere.”

The publication also quoted Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff as saying, “If you’re going to take a leadership position by drafting Michael, you’ve got to expect both the good and the bad. We’ll prepare for it, and I think we’ll shine through it.”

 

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