New England Patriots to be first NFL team to sponsor LGBT flag football championship
By Brian Hines
The New England Patriots will become the first team in the NFL to host LGBT Flag Football Championship.
Since 2002 an annual national championship tournament for LGBT flag football teams called the Gay Bowl has taken place across North America. Over 40 teams compete in the tournament in several divisions, including a women’s division.
The Patriots will become the first NFL team to endorse the annual tournament this year. The sponsor by the Patriots comes as no surprise as the team has long supported the LGBT community.
In 2003 when Boston hosted the Gay Bowl, former Patriot Andre Tippett attended the event. Tippett was there to officiate the tournament’s ceremonial coin toss. The Patriots also wrote an amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage in the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.
It was made clear by LGBT advocate Marc Solomon that Kraft and his wife Myra signed the brief as individuals. Julian Edelman also showed support for marriage equality after the case. The wide receiver changed his social media images to pictures of him dyed in rainbow colors.
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Kraft also made an appearance last April at a banquet dinner to honor an LGBT high school athlete Chris Morse. Gay Bowl chairmen Danny Terrell and Dave Hamilton were also in attendance.
"“[Kraft] was unequivocal in lending the support of the Patriots simply, he said, because it’s the right thing to do,” Solomon said to Marissa Payne."
As the Patriots are showing more support to the LGBT community, so is the NFL. Last year, the league refused to move the owners meeting from North Carolina last season, despite the LGBT state bathroom laws.
But since, the league invited Lady Gaga, an LGBT community icon, to perform in Super Bowl 51. The NFL also warned the state of Texas about a proposed bill that would restrict people from using select restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.
"“The NFL embraces inclusiveness,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement to the Houston Chronicle in February. “We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events, and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.”"
The tournament will take place in Boston yet again this year and start on October 5th.