Major League Baseball took a major step Tuesday to help any closeted gay player if he chooses to come out while still active on the field.
MLB announced that its new Collective Bargaining Agreement will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as reported by the New York Daily News.
The National Football League made the same change in September.
"I think this is an important step forward for MLB," said Brian Redar, a gay baseball fan from Chicago. "Not only does it add needed protections for gay and lesbian employees, it sends a message to fans that discrimination in the sport will not be tolerated. It is inevitable that an active Major League Baseball player will come out soon and I think this will help make that process easier."
Several MLB teams this year released an "It Gets Better" video after the San Francisco Giants were the first. The Cubs were among the teams that produced an "It Gets Better" video and the Cubs also were a major sponsor of the Gay Softball World Series, held in Chicago this summer.
The White Sox have not released an "It Gets Better" video, nor did the team sponsor the Gay Softball World Series, even though local organizers repeatedly requested the team's involvement and one of the Sox players (Gordon Beckham) jokingly wrote an anti-gay message (GETZ IS GAY) in the infield dirt during a game this year to friend and former teammate Chris Getz.
Getz is straight, and no active MLB player or coach is out.
Laura Ricketts is a co-owner of the Cubs, and she is believed to be the first openly gay owner of a major-league sports franchise.
Ricketts was unavailable for comment Tuesday about the MLB announcement.
After the NFL added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy, Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas wrote a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig calling for pro baseball to follow suit, reports the Dallas Voice. McDonnell received responses from both Selig and MLB Executive Vice President Robert Manfred Jr.
"While it is my policy not to comment on matters currently on the table, I think it is safe to say the issue you have raised will be addressed in a positive way," Manfred wrote to McDonnell, the Voice reports.
McDonnell has also written a letter to the National Basketball Association calling for the NBA to ban anti-gay discrimination, but he said he has yet to receive a response, according to the Voice.
Here it the policy, from the official SUMMARY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYERS ASSOCIATIONMAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL LABOR AGREEMENT
a. Participation in the All-Star Game will be required unless the Player is unable to play due to injury or is otherwise excused by the Office of the Commissioner. Players Trust will receive an increased contribution and players will receive additional benefits.
b. All Players will be subject to a policy governing the use of Social Media.
c. Weekend waivers during the regular season will be implemented beginning in 2012.
d. The parties will agree upon a comprehensive international play plan in which Clubs and Player will visit countries in which games have not been staged in the past.
e. Non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation were added to Article XV.
f. Instant Replay will be expanded to include fair/foul and "trapped" ball plays, subject to the Office of the Commissioner's discussions with the World Umpires Association.
g. Modifications to Fourth Option and Outright Assignment rules.
h. The parties agreed to an improved process for challenging official scorer decisions.