Super Bowl LII: Both Teams Competing Are Longtime Supporters of LGBTQ Equality

By Shane Stahl • February 3, 2018 • 8:14 pm

Sunday’s Super Bowl, which pits the New England Patriots against the Philadelphia Eagles, will feature two teams that support LGBTQ non-discrimination protections and have been vocal advocates for equality and fairness. It’s a signal of the growing trend in the athletics field of strongly supporting and embracing equal treatment for LGBTQ fans and players.

The New England region has comprehensive LGBTQ non-discrimination protections almost entirely; New Hampshire is the only state without full protections, but lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would update existing laws to be fully inclusive. Freedom New Hampshire is the campaign to secure these fully transgender-inclusive protections, and Freedom for All Americans is proud to be a leading and founding member of the coalition there.

The Patriots are also among the most LGBTQ-supportive teams in the league. In 2015, they signed onto an amicus brief in support of same sex marriage, and in 2017 sponsored the annual Gay Bowl, a national competition for LGBTQ flag football teams, with a donation of $25,000. Additionally, the team has also signed on as an official supporter of Freedom For All Massachusetts, the campaign to defend the state’s existing protections for transgender people from repeal, in which Freedom for All Americans is also heavily invested.

While the Philadelphia Eagles do not boast quite the same history of formal LGBTQ involvement, they are still a team supportive of the community. In 2016, they invited longtime fan Joe Guckin, a gay man dying of end-stage brain cancer, to their matchup against the Atlanta Falcons after learning about his condition on social media. Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims, who is openly gay, also jumped in, helping provide Guckin with transportation to and from the game.

Eagles Quarterback Nick Foles has also gone on record as being supportive of possible LGBTQ teammates, saying in an interview: “I’m going to treat them the same way … [football players are] normal people, and we just want to treat people decently.” Philadelphia is also one of more than 200 cities that have enacted comprehensive non-discrimination protections, and mayor Jim Kenney is a co-chair of the national coalition, Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination.

Performers at this year’s game include Justin Timberlake and P!nk, both of whom have been vocal supporters of the LGBTQ community. Timberlake advocated for marriage equality starting in 2011, and he and wife Jessica Biel were honored by GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) with their Inspiration Award in 2015. P!nk was honored by the Human Rights Campaign in 2010 with their Ally For Equality Award, and in a 2017 speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, she spoke movingly about gender identity and acceptance. The Super Bowl has a history of featuring performers with strong support for the LGBTQ community, including Madonna, Diana Ross, Lady Gaga, Prince, Coldplay, Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, and Cher.

You can tune in to the Super Bowl this Sunday at 6:30pm on NBC. And learn more about the teams and their support for LGBTQ equal treatment from our friends at OutSports.

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