Major League Baseball gets its first openly gay active player in David Denson

Major League Baseball’s David Denson made history over the weekend when he became the first active MLB player to come out as gay, according to a report by CNN.com.

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David Denson

Denson, 20, plays first base for the Milwaukee Brewers rookie affiliate in Helena, Montana. He came out to his family and Helena Brewers teammates first, then came out publicly in an article published over the weekend in the Milkwaukee Journal Sentinel. Denson said he got the confidence he needed to come out by talking with teammates, who assured him that it is his ability as a ball player that matters to them, not his sexual orientation.

Former Major Leaguer Billy Bean — who came out after he retired and is now MLB’s first ambassador for inclusion — told the Sentinel Journal that Denson is an excellent baseball player, and that by coming out, he can possibly “be an example that can help change … the stereotype that there would never be a gay person on a men’s professional sports team.”

Bean said Denson is a “humble” young man who had decided to come out not for publicity but in order to be “his best self. He’s a great baseball player, but he needs to be his best self to get to the big leagues.”

Denson told the Milwaukee newspaper that he had kept his sexuality hidden since being tapped by the Brewers in 2013, but that the weight of keeping the secret had been weighing on him: “It became a depression level.  I wasn’t being myself. It was visible in my body language. I didn’t know if I should still stay in the sport.”

Denson is batting .245 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 42 games for Helena. He was selected by the Brewers in the 15th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft out of South Hills High School in West Covina, Calif., and is the Brewers’ 27th-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Resource Center calls on MLB commissioner to pledge support for gay players who come out

In November, Major League Baseball added sexual orientation to its discrimination policies, which was thanks in part to a letter from the Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell. But the latest news to come from both the gay and baseball fronts isn’t quite so encouraging. Last week, rumors swirled that Minnesota Twins player Carl Pavano, above, was being extorted by former high school classmate Christian Bedard, who reportedly had a same-sex relationship with Pavano.

In response to the incident, McDonnell drafted and sent the following letter calling for MLB commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig to do the right thing and “to use your voice and position to unequivocally state that any player who is gay and who wishes to come out will receive the support of your office and the league.”

Read McDonnell’s entire letter after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Major League Baseball to ban anti-gay discrimination after letter from Resource Center

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Rafael McDonnell

Major League Baseball is set to ban anti-gay discrimination as part of a new collective bargaining agreement to be released today, following a request from Resource Center Dallas.

Last month, after the National Football League added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy, Resource Center’s Rafael McDonnell penned a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig calling for pro baseball to follow suit.

McDonnell received responses from both Selig and MLB Executive Vice President Robert Manfred Jr. (Read their letters here and here.)

“While it is my policy not to comment on matters currently on the table, I think it is safe to say the issue you have raised will be addressed in a positive way,” Manfred wrote to McDonnell on Nov. 3.

Today, the New York Daily News is reporting that the new MLB collective bargaining agreement — which is set to be released this afternoon — does in fact ban anti-gay discrimination. From the Daily News:

Major League Baseball, which saw Jackie Robinson break the color barrier in 1947, Tuesday will announce incremental progress in another civil rights issue. The new collective bargaining agreement adds “sexual orientation” to its section on discrimination, a person with direct knowledge of the agreement told the Daily News.

Article XV, Section A of the MLB’s expiring Basic Agreement, in effect from 2006-2011, states: “The provisions of this Agreement shall be applied to all Players covered by this Agreement without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

In the new agreement, which will be made public Tuesday afternoon, the words “sexual orientation” will be added to the equivalent section.

McDonnell has also written a letter to the National Basketball Association calling for the NBA to ban anti-gay discrimination, but he said he has yet to receive a response.

Major League Soccer added sexual orientation protections in 2004, while the National Hockey League did so in 2005.

—  John Wright