Updated at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, May 22
The Padres issued an apology last night via Twitter.
“This evening, during the pregame ceremony, a mistake was made in the Petco Park control room that prevented the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus from performing the National Anthem as scheduled,” the statement read. “We apologize to anyone in the ballpark who this may have offended, and have reached out to the Chorus to express our deep regret for the error.”
That wasn’t enough for the executive director of the chorus. Bob Lehman issued a lengthy statement on the group’s Facebook page.
“What should have been a night of joy and celebration at Petco Park last night, instead turned into a nightmare raising serious questions about homophobia within the San Diego Padres organization and its relationship with the LGBT community.
“Before the start of the last night’s San Diego Padres game, 100 volunteer singers of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus took to the field to proudly sing the National Anthem. Instead, in front of the large crowd gathered for the L.A. Dodgers game, the San Diego Padres played the recorded voice of a woman singing the anthem.
“No attempt was made to stop the recording and start over. No announcement of apology was made to the singers or their friends and families in the stands. No attempt to correct the situation occurred other than to force the 100 men to stand in the spotlight of center field for the song’s duration and then be escorted off the field to the heckles of baseball fans shouting homophobic taunts including ‘you sing like a girl.”’
“…With this as background, we call on the San Diego Padres and Major League Baseball to immediately launch a full and transparent investigation into the incident to determine if someone or some people intentionally engaged in anti-gay discrimination or a hate crime by playing a female’s voice to represent a group of gay men with the purpose of denigrating and/or ridiculing gay men. The historic significance of such an act is not lost on the LGBT community, especially in relation to professional sports, and added to the depth of embarrassment experienced by the singers and their families.”
The statement went on to call for investigations by the city attorney’s office and the city’s Human Relations Commission. It also commended Padres President and CEO Mike Dee “for reaching out to our organization to apologize and to offer to meet with LGBT leaders to discuss the incident. We look forward to this meeting.”
The Padres said they would not have further comment Sunday beyond last night’s tweet. However, they did retweet a statement this afternoon by former Padres player Billy Bean, the only openly gay former or current Major League Player.
“The San Diego Padres have supported our inclusion message at MLB without hesitation even before my return to baseball in 2014,” the statement said. “They have made every effort to include the LGBT community and champion equality in MLB for each and every one of us.
“I’m so proud of the Padres organization for hosting an LGBT Pride event during the season, and I would hope that the community recognizes that error and intent are not related.”
— City News Service
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