Tag Archives: Jason Collins

Debra Haffner To ESPN: That’s A Foul!

When Jason Collins came out as the 1st gay male athlete currently active in a major American team sport, ESPN’s Chris Broussard called homosexuality “an open rebellion to God.”

Some Americans said “amen!” Many more said “aaaargh!”

Rev. Debra Haffner

Rev. Debra Haffner

Debra Haffner swung into action.

Rev. Haffner — president of Religious Institute, the Westport-based national multifaith organization advocating for sexual health, education and justice in faith communities and society — organized an online petition.

It read:

Stop Trying to Score Points By Misrepresenting My Religion!

If ESPN addresses religious issues, it must include leaders from the many religious traditions that affirm sexual and gender diversity as a blessing, or they must cease from commenting on such issues entirely. We strongly support open dialogue, but true dialogue cannot be one sided.


Haffner and her organization then had “dialogue” — phone conversations and emails — with Monica Diaz. ESPN’s vice president for diversity, inclusion and wellness cited her network’s long history of commitment to women, people of color and the LGBT community.

Okay, said Religious Institute. But if the on-air comment had been racist rather than anti-gay, it would have been dealt with immediately — and in far stronger terms than ESPN’s president’s initial tepid apology.

Haffner says she and her staff will work with ESPN to ensure a broad spectrum of religious views when reporting future stories.

If, that is, ESPN feels the need to include religion at all.