WASHINGTON — The Washington lobbyist who announced Monday that he wants to put forward legislation banning gay people from playing in the National Football League told a reporter that the proposal is just about "common decency and civility."
Told by WJLA-ABC 7's Mike Conneen that some were suggesting the proposal is a stunt, Jack Burkman insisted, "No, hardly a stunt."
Prompted by NFL hopeful Michael Sam's coming out, the conservative Burkman described his proposed legislation, saying, "If someone has come out as a homosexual, what this legislation would do is one of two things: It would ban them from the National Football League. Two, it would give the NFL a choice: It would allow them to create separate facilities, completely separate facilities."
Human Rights Campaign spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz shot back, "This idea sounds more like something you'd read in The Onion rather than anything close to legitimate public policy."
In the WJLA interview, Burkman discussed the uphill battle he faces against the media and "political correctness," as well.
"If you even attempt to discuss these issues, people call you a bigot. They link it to race. They want to talk about everything except the substance of the issue," he said.
"[A]s [we] speak tonight, there are people drafting it," he said when pressed for specifics, including the names of supportive lawmakers. "We have — today's the kickoff, so you're catching me on day one. We expect to have a lot of support. I'll give you the projection. Within like three weeks, within 20 days, our projections indicate we'll have 36 members in the House, six in the Senate. ... You can't be too far right in many districts in this Republican Party."
Then, Conneen pressed further:
Conneen: Jack, can you name one lawmaker for me who supports this?
Burkman: I could but I won't for them —
Burkman: I will be able to soon.
Burkman: To protect their privacy. We're still working on the legislation. ... But soon enough, Mike, we'll be happy to.
Of his confidence in the bill's possibilities, Burkman said, "I think I can drive it through," noting it would preempt state law and some state constitutions.
Of that, HRC Vice President Fred Sainz told BuzzFeed, "If the concept weren't so laughable, I would be enraged."
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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