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Old 08-19-2005, 08:37 AM   #1
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gays, Christians booed at Phillies' "Gay Day"

Gay-pride event, protesters rile ballpark crowd

By Phil Sheridan

Inquirer Sports Columnist

The Phillies found themselves in the middle of the culture war as well as the National League wild-card race last night.

As the Phillies played the Washington Nationals, a confrontation developed in the upper deck at Citizens Bank Park between Repent America, a fundamentalist Christian group, and fans, many of whom were attending the game as part of a gay pride group.

This is the third year for Gay Day, which featured a national anthem performance by the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus and a first pitch from Cyd Ziegler of

It's also the third year Repent America's Michael Marcavage has attended in protest of the event. Marcavage and another man held a sign that read, "Homosexuality Is a Sin, Christ Can Save You" at the top of Section 303 in right field.

At one point, other fans stood in front of the banner, obscuring it. Eventually, officers from the Philadelphia Police Civil Affairs division flanked Marcavage and his unidentified companion.

"This is totally offensive to me," said James Duggan, a fan from Merchantville who stood several rows in front of the sign and engaged Marcavage in debate. "These people are false Christians. I was told the Phillies' lawyers arranged this with Repent America's lawyers, and I find that totally offensive, too."

Mike Stiles, the Philles' vice-president of operations and administration, said the team's attorneys had met with attorneys for Repent America after the group protested the first gay-pride event at Veterans Stadium in 2003.

"It's pretty clear under the Constitution," Stiles said, "that if you're going to have a gay community night, people have the right to express another opinion. We understand it's distressing for some people to have to look at that sign. We believe the leaders of the gay community who arrange this night like any other group know what they're going to have to put up with."

The Phillies have written policies barring fan behavior "interfering with other guests' ability to enjoy the game," as well as banners that contain "fighting words likely to provoke a breach of the peace."

Both policies, Stiles said, are trumped by Repent America's First Amendment rights.

"On a night when we didn't have the gay community, we wouldn't necessarily permit a sign like that," Stiles said. "A sign expressing an objection to the war would not be permitted because it has nothing to do with baseball."

Marcavage and the second man rolled up their sign at the end of the sixth inning, prompting cheers from the fans around Section 303. As the police officers and Phillies officials escorted them out of the grandstand and to an employees' elevator, fans booed and chanted obscenities.

Duggan left the section a few minutes later and headed over to buy a beer.

"I moved here from New York," Duggan said, "and I've traveled a lot. I've found Philadelphia to be the most tolerant place I've ever been. I think that says something. I'm a gay man, I confronted this guy, and I'm not the one who got booed. He is."

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Old 08-19-2005, 08:51 AM   #2
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We had a gay couple join our church the other sunday

This is an interesting article...unfortunately it's a situation that is all too common these days.

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Old 08-19-2005, 09:03 AM   #3
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"Gay Day."

Those protesters seem like asses, though. I mean, come on. It's a baseball game, not some political rally. Let the people enjoy the game. Geez.
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Old 08-19-2005, 09:26 AM   #4
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That man said it all, that's false Christianity in my opinion and in the way I define it. I assume the fans were booing that guy and his sign, not the fact that he was leaving the game. So it appears most fans didn't appreciate that sign.

When the Red Sox had the Queer Eye guys at Fenway, a few idiot sports commentators and one guy on the Red Sox made an issue of it. The fab five were warmly received at the park and they said they had a great time. The guys on the Red Sox who were in that QE episode enjoyed it too.

It's a shame that some people can't just have fun at a baseball game, peacefully co-exist, and live and let live
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Old 08-19-2005, 09:28 AM   #5
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I love Philly fans...they boo Santa Claus, throw batteries at JD Drewm and cheer Michael Irvin when he's lying on the field with a broken neck....I'm surprised someone didnt go after the protesters.
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Old 08-19-2005, 09:40 AM   #6
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the crowd at Vertigo Philly was, hands down, the *best* audience i've ever been a part of.

heck, the people around me knew the words to "an cat dubh" AND "yahweh."

go Philly!
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Old 08-19-2005, 03:45 PM   #7
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Philly might have good U2 fans (the crowd around me that were not FAN tickets - SUCKED...including the guy who tried to talk on his cell phone throughout an cat dubh), but the sports fans really can be summed up by randhail said.

I listened to the game Wed. night for a good hour+ and they never mentioned "gay day."
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:25 PM   #8
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I hate booing at the ballpark. Granted we don't really have a ballpark here in Birmingham, although we have a minor league baseball team. Isn't a ballpark a place to have fun? Please pardon me if I'm too naive.
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Old 08-19-2005, 06:14 PM   #9
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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
It's a shame that some people can't just have fun at a baseball game, peacefully co-exist, and live and let live
Agreed. Real mature, people .

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Old 08-19-2005, 09:40 PM   #10
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I found Philly to be incredibly diverse (at least, compared to Halifax) when I was there in May (for Philly 1). It was awesome.

I saw a couple of gay men holding hands standing above the bullpen and they were joking around with the other fans at the railing, joining in in the Ken Griffey heckling. Everyone was having a blast.

I can understand why the fans would be upset at someone with a sign like that. At least he was in 303 (which is WAY up there) and not right in center field or behind the plate, where TV cameras would be constantly giving this moron free publicity.
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Old 08-19-2005, 10:43 PM   #11
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Was 'Gay Day' really the best name they could come up with?
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Old 08-20-2005, 06:40 AM   #12
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do you have a better suggestion?
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Old 08-20-2005, 08:10 AM   #13
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Remember the saying "sticks and stones.....
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Old 08-20-2005, 08:49 PM   #14
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It's fine to be angry at intolerance, but please don't assume all fundamentalist christians would do something like that.

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