The Portland Trail Blazers are now the official NBA sponsor of marriage equality. The team has publicly endorsed the effort to get a right-to-marry initiative on the state ballot. The Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns, the city’s men’s and women’s soccer teams, have also put their names to the effort.
The aptly named Trail Blazers are the first large sports team to take a stand for marriage equality. In a statement, the team said it did so “as believers in individual choice as a fundamental right of all people.”
Oregon is one of four states targeted by activists for legalization of marriage equality by 2014. Oregon United for Marriage is working to qualify a ballot measure for November 2014. The group has collected 94,000 signatures out of 116,000 it needs to get the measure on the ballot. Oregon’s neighbors to the north and south–Washington and California–already allow same-sex marriages. A legal challenge is also wending its way through the court system.
Marriage Equality USA spokesman Stuart Gaffney said team sports have remained a hard places for LGBT athletes to come out. He said it’s important for professional teams to continue to publicly show their support for same-sex marriage.
“Professional sports are a barometer of where the country is going,” Stuart Gaffney of Marriage Equality USA told The Oregonian. “For a long time professional sports teams have been silent on LGBT rights and that time is coming to a close as we see right now in Oregon.”