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Nationals Pitcher Sean Doolittle Will Not Be Visiting the White House

Nationals Pitcher Sean Doolittle Will Not Be Visiting the White House

[Photo: Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle throws the ball at a game.]

Doolittle and his wife, Eireann Dolan, are longtime supporters of LGBTQ rights.

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle told The Washington Post Friday that he will not be visiting the White House on Monday with the rest of his teammates following their World Series win.

Although Doolittle has not explicitly commented on his reasons for skipping the visit, he and his wife, Eireann Dolan, are longtime supporters of both LGBTQ rights and Syrian refugees.

As reported by the Post in 2018, "When the Athletics [Doolittle's team at the time] received backlash for scheduling an LGBT Pride Night in the spring of 2015, Doolittle and Dolan raised enough money to buy 900 tickets -- tickets they donated to local LGBT youth groups. They organized a Thanksgiving meal for Syrian refugees in Chicago, one at which the mayor of Chicago and his aldermen served as greeters and waiters."

Last year, Doolittle condemned the use of antigay slurs among fellow athletes, and he wore cleats hand-painted with the trans flag and the rainbow flag in honor of Pride this summer.

Sports champions have been visiting the White House regularly since Ronald Reagan's presidency, but the tradition dates back to the 1920s. Doolittle joins a handful of other athletes who have declined to visit the White House for political reasons since the beginning of the Trump administration.

Although Donald Trump routinely fails to invite women's sports champions, U.S. Women's National Team soccer player Megan Rapinoe memorably said in advance of the World Cup quarterfinal this summer that she wasn't "going to the fucking White House" if the team won.

Rapinoe, who came out as a lesbian in 2012, explained, "I would encourage my teammates to think hard about lending that platform or having that co-opted by an administration that doesn't feel the same way and doesn't fight for the same things that we fight for."

Trump said in a tweet following Rapinoe's comments that he would invite the team, but later appeared to be uncertain. Regardless, the members of the USWNT have not made a visit following their fourth Women's World Cup title.

After Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup championship in 2018, goaltender Braden Holtby also elected not to make a White House trip. Holtby has regularly appeared in the Washington, D.C., Pride Parade and spoke last September at the Human Rights Campaign dinner in the capital.

He told the Post that his LGBTQ advocacy directly factored into his decision. "My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you're born into," Holtby said. "You're asked to choose what side you're on, and I think it's pretty clear what side I'm on. I believe that this is the right decision for myself and my family."

Holtby's teammate Brett Connolly also declined the invitation out of solidarity with Devante Smith-Pelly, who was the first on the team to say he would not go. Smith-Pelly was no longer with the Capitals at the time of their Stanley Cup win.

Other champions who have made headlines by declining invitations to the White House -- or declaring their intention to do so -- include Steph Curry from the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and multiple members of the Philadelphia Eagles.

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