'Good sportsmanship means letting everyone have an equal shot at competing openly and honestly,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese.-
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign unveiled a new television ad today that will debut in targeted cities tomorrow night before the USA cable network broadcast "Ring of Fire," a story based on actual events about a boxing champion who struggled with his sexual orientation. The ad includes images and names of openly gay professional athletes Billy Bean of MLB, Rosie Jones of the LPGA and Esera Tuaolo of the NFL. The ad promotes "level playing fields" for all Americans, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes.
"Good sportsmanship means letting everyone have an equal shot at competing openly and honestly," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "For GLBT athletes, that opportunity often involves extra hurdles of discrimination, and it is time that we level that playing field."
Last week, Sports Illustrated released a poll showing that 86 percent of Americans think that openly gay athletes should not be excluded from team sports. However, the poll went on to say that 68 percent of respondents think it hurts an athlete's career to be openly gay.
"Our hope is that this ad will reach America's GLBT youth, who may feel alone and unwelcome, so that they will know that they are welcome and deserving on all playing fields, just like anyone else," said Solmonese. "From professional competition to playground baseball games, everyone competes at a higher level and goes further when all athletes are allowed an equal chance to play."
The ad will be broadcast in targeted markets around the country, including Atlanta Birmingham, Ala. Denver Milwaukee, Wis. Nashville, Tenn. Salt Lake City Topeka, Kan. and Washington, D.C.
Text of the ad is included below:
"Sports - they're part of our American way of life. A level playing field, and honoring those who excel. No matter who they are - including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes who have played to the highest level.
"The Human Rights Campaign salutes all athletes for reminding us that, on or off the field, equality and excellence are what make sports andAmerica great.
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