GOP Lobbyist Drafting Bill To Ban Gays From NFL


Jack Burkman, a K Street lobbyist who has previously served as a Legislative Aide for former Congressman Rick Lazio as well as being a radio host and frequent guest on Fox News Channel, tells The Hill that he wants to ban openly gay players from professional football:

Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman on Monday said he is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from joining the National Football League.

Burkman in a statement said he has garnered political support for the bill, though his statement didn’t mention any specific lawmakers who are behind it.

“We are losing our decency as a nation,” Burkman said in a statement. “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

Burkman said he came up with the idea after college football star Michael Sam publicly revealed he is gay a few weeks ago. If drafted, Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL.


Burkman was not available to speak with The Hill but urged Congress to act in his statement.

“If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it,” Burkman said.

Burkman serves as founder and president of his own lobbying firm, Burkman Associates. He has also worked as of counsel at law firm Holland & Knight. In the 1990s, he served as counsel to then-Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.).

Burkman’s firm, JM Burkman & Associates, signed 70 new clients last year, the most of any K Street firm, a recent review by The Hill found.

Sam Stein has further details:

WASHINGTON — A Republican lobbyist is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from playing in the National Football League, a move he says is necessary to prevent American society from sliding into indecency.

Jack Burkman, the CEO of Burkman LLC, said Monday that he would push Republican lawmakers to support the measure, which he put together after college football star Michael Sam announced that he is gay. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Burkman insisted that five members of the House of Representatives and one senator are interested in co-sponsoring the bill, and that those numbers would rise to 36 and five, respectively, within three weeks. Notably, he declined to name any of the lawmakers in question.

The absence of any actual details — from the language of the bill to the names of potential supporters — gave the announcement the unmistakable whiff of a publicity stunt. Burkman’s own public relations firm broke the news of the legislation. Beyond his motive, however, is a larger question: Why would Burkman even bother? Sam’s announcement was met with widespread support. Why should Congress create a conflict where, for the most part, one doesn’t exist?

Even Burkman concedes that conservatives like himself are supposed to find it abhorrent when the government tells a private business how to conduct its affairs.

“However,” he added, “there are times when that is trumped for reason of great urgency or necessity. And I think this is it, because I see the society sliding in the wrong direction.”

“I felt that if the NFL doesn’t have any morals, and people like [Commissioner] Roger Goodell, who are just go-along-get-along guys, just want to appease advertisers, appease corporate America and all that stuff,” he said, “I figured, well, it is time for conservatives in Congress to step in and define morality for them.”

But the slope is slippery and filled with intolerance. Burkman expressed particular concern about the possibility of a gay man disrupting the delicate equilibrium of a locker room. Does that extend to congressional locker rooms? Should openly gay politicians be prohibited from serving in Congress since, after all, lawmakers share gyms there?

“That is up to Congress,” Burkman said.

Would Burkman be fine with openly gay men playing in the NFL if they used separate bathrooms from straight players?

“That would be a start,” he said.

And here’s Burkman discussing this initiative:

When I first read about this at The Raw Story, I thought it was something from a parody website. But, no, this is apparently a real thing. How such a law could possibly be Constitutional I do not know.

FILED UNDER: Sports, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Stonetools says:

    That’s the GOP for you. They run on low taxes and limited government and then legislate anti abortion and culture war too. What’s interesting is that the people who vote for them on tax issues are constantly surprised when they do the culture war stuff. Maybe they should try not voting for Republicans?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Hate. It’s a family value for small government conservatives. If that didn’t make any sense to you, it’s because you still have a brain.

  3. JoshB says:

    He’s a typical family values conservative.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    … the unmistakable whiff of a publicity stunt.

    Do you think? Grifters gotta grift.

    @JoshB: Fun link. But I still think he’s closeted.

  5. Barry says:

    It’s hilarious; perhaps he can quote from the Founders[1] about how the proper role of the government is to regulate the morals[2] of for-profit sports leagues.

    [1] Barton can ‘discover’ some secret documents.
    [2] Where ‘morals’ don’t apply to anything which would impede profits.

  6. KM says:

    Leaving out the whole gay issue for a moment- if the NFL doesn’t tell this guy where to stick it for telling them how to run their business, I’d be very surprised. If he thinks for one minute the NFL will put up with Congress writing a specific law addressed to them and them alone affecting their lifeblood (the ability to draft players), he’s got another thing coming. Regardless of their personal stances on the issue, the NFL is Money and Money doesn’t do restrictions.

    Back to the topic at hand- way to waste public money on a totally indefensible piece of BS, dude! Nice retirement income for him, a huge bill for the rest of us – both from the government’s defense bills AND from the NFL’s lawsuits and lawyer fees (since we all know they’re not paying a dime if they can pass it along). Aiming for the Grifter Hall of Fame, that one….

  7. Blue Galangal says:

    Gee, I’m a mom with a 20-something son and I can tell you that worrying about who he showered with in the NFL locker room would be the last thing on my mind, if, that is, he got signed to the NFL. I’d be concerned with drugs; fast cars; too much money too fast; and, oh, the NFL part – I’d be much happier if he was showering with gay NHL teammates.

  8. Scott says:

    Hate to break it to him but NFL players have already showered with gay men. In fact, this clown has showered with gay men also.

  9. Maggie says:

    Probably , it has been going on for years, but now, for the first time,here is the proof, STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH, that legislators are so in bed with Lobbyists that they even let them develop bills to serve their own Special Interest & pass them off as their own.
    Morals & Values are SUBJECTIVE, not OBJECTIVE, so to name them as a basis for new law strikes at the very core of the constitution, it interferes with the separation of Church and State, the whole concept of Free Enterprise, and most importantly the concept that we are all CREATED EQUAL.

  10. mantis says:

    Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country.

    Armchair psychology time: this guy grew up hearing that gays are evil from his psychotic, controlling mother. He developed severe anxiety over his own homosexual tendencies, which he struggled with especially in the locker room in school. His father loved football and he learned that playing pro ball is the pinnacle of existence. An openly gay player joining the league has triggered deep seated issues in the man, and he has decided to embark on a crusade. He’s overcompensating to a ridiculous degree.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @mantis: Also blissfully unaware that he’s almost certainly showered with gay guys frequently.

  12. Tillman says:

    There’s no mistake that we live in an age of moral relativism. Alasdair MacIntyre, in my mind, eloquently summed up the problem in After Virtue. The language of morality has been reduced down to one man’s opinion versus another’s. It has been made subjective.

    The reaction of Our Moral Guardians, like this dude, has been entirely incorrect and improper regarding the problem. When moral language becomes subjective, you don’t attempt to force it down others’ throats through legislation. You should, instead, seek to clarify your own morals and attempt to be an exemplar of them. You should spread them culturally, starting in your own community and working out from there. A bottom-up approach.

    Going the route they went inevitably made them moral lawyers advocating petty rules that don’t have much justification aside from fitting into a conceptual framework that worked for nomadic tribes five thousand years ago. This isn’t the description of a winning argument. So now they find themselves pushing (even if facetiously, since this really does look like a publicity stunt) a dumb rule for a sport principally about guys clobbering each other really hard. That’s sad. It’s not even reprehensible anymore. It’s too pitiful.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    The GOP is so un-productive…they are now out-sourcing their bigotry to lobbyists.

  14. C. Clavin says:

    Apparently his own brother is gay…and his gay brother thinks he is an a$$hole.

  15. Hal_10000 says:

    Not to interrupt anyone’s Republican bashing, but this has precisely zero chance of getting anywhere in Congress. I doubt it will even come up in committee. I’m dubious it will even get more than a couple of sponsors from really safe districts. This gay is way out on the fringe of the GOP*. I think Stein is right: this is a publicity stunt. And … it seems to have worked.

    (* after posting, realized that I meant to say “guy” in that sentence, but “gay” works so much better on so many levels, I’m leaving the mis-spelling in.)

  16. C. Clavin says:

    Pointless stunt? So kinda like 48 votes to repeal Obamacare, right?

  17. Hal_10000 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Sorta. But Obamacare repeal actually came up for a vote and (I think) passed the House. This won’t even get that far. The GOP had votes to repeal Obamacare because they wanted to prove they oppose Obamacare. Large segments of the GOP are backing away from gay issues as fast as they can.

  18. Tillman says:

    @Hal_10000: Just so my ranting is spread evenly, it’s not like the left is immune to legislating morality. They’ve just been less open about it lately.

  19. ernieyeball says:

    @Hal_10000:..(Jack Burkman) is way out on the fringe of the GOP.

    No he is not.

  20. anjin-san says:

    Can someone show me where Jesus preached the virtues of hatred and intolerance? I have looked, and I can’t find it…

  21. Pinky says:

    “That’s the GOP for you.”

    This is just like the Uganda headline. It fits the anti-socon narrative, so even though it’s not true, you’re willing to roll with it. Does it matter that this is one guy, who isn’t a congressman? Nope. It’s the GOP for Stonetools. It’s what he’s invested in believing the entire GOP is, so it doesn’t matter whether it speaks to the GOP as a whole.

  22. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Sure thing. Just show us where the real leaders of the GOP are speaking out in favor of equality and equal rights for gays/lesbians. It should be a snap.

  23. Tillman says:


    This is just like the Uganda headline.

    Except that this isn’t a headline and is one guy’s expressed opinion. We all form narratives. Believe me, if eco-terrorism was on the rise (like social conservatism’s moment in the spotlight for the last decade), you’d get similar generalizations about the left.

    Also, we can’t effectively communicate with each other if we’re constantly having to define our terms in each conversation for clarity’s sake. (Something ernie likes to do whenever someone associates him with a particular viewpoint, if I recall correctly.) So communication is bound to have reductionist terms in it. I doubt stonetools thinks the entire GOP thinks like this, but he reckons enough do to make a comfortable simplification. Same thing with reynolds and others saying the GOP are racists.

    There are problems with comfortable simplification, but we’re not going to get past those. Calling them out when they’re misapplied is a good thing to do, but it can’t be the only thing you do.

  24. Tillman says:

    Man, those antidepressants must be kicking in. I’m writing way too many long posts. I used to exercise brevity, damn it.

  25. ernieyeball says:

    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

  26. Anonne says:

    Wait, whatever happened to individual freedom, and the NFL’s freedom to contract with whomever it pleases? This is not small government.

    Oh right, if it’s a gay person, they don’t count.

    These things make it embarrassing to be a Christian.

  27. Pinky says:

    @Tillman: In this case, it literally is a headline. The first word is “GOP”. There’s no such thing as a GOP lobbyist, in that officials in the political parties don’t lobby for legislation (as far as I know, they can’t). But Doug makes the jump from Burkman’s resume to “GOP lobbyist”, and Stone makes the jump from “GOP lobbyist” to “that’s the GOP for you”. Anjin says, well, the truth in this particular case doesn’t matter, as long as the GOP changes its position on gay marriage then we’ll stop spreading this particular story.

  28. Tillman says:

    @Pinky: That’s somewhat narrow. Couldn’t anyone registered to vote as a Republican be considered “in” the Republican party?

  29. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Anjin says, well, the truth in this particular case doesn’t matter, as long as the GOP changes its position on gay marriage then we’ll stop spreading this particular story.

    So all you have left is to lie about what other people say. You are a weak MoFo.

  30. ernieyeball says:

    “You are a slow learner, Winston.”
    “How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
    “Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”

  31. anjin-san says:

    The truth of the matter is very simple. There is a broad-based effort in this country by “social conservatives” to bring back Jim Crow, albeit in a new form, directed at gays & lesbians.

    The fact that their efforts are pretty much diametrically opposed to both the principles this country was founded on AND the teachings of Jesus seems to bother them not a whit.

  32. mantis says:



    The Constitution is silent about who can write legislation, FYI.

  33. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san: Yeah, that’s what Jim Crow was about, banning gay football players. Like I said, the facts don’t concern you, the “truth” does. (I’m sure I’m overstating that, but come on, you’re not giving me much reason here to think you do care about facts.)

  34. ernieyeball says:

    Words are but a plaything to me. Tommy Smothers

    (Today I am celebrating the antonyms of clarity: vagueness, obscurity and nonsense.)

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Yeah, that’s what Jim Crow was about, banning gay football players.

    Sort of like black athletes were once banned. Every hear of the Negro Leagues? Jackie Robinson? Se habla history?

    Jim Crow was about segregating a minority from the mainstream of American life. It was about limiting their rights and ability to participate in normal day-to-day activities that the rest of us take for granted.

    This is exactly what the right is trying to perpetuate and even increase with gays & lesbians. Basically, the right wants bigots to be able to go back to the days before the Greensboro Four. Before the Stonewall “riot”

    Even you are not too dim to understand this. Either make better arguments, or tattoo “I am an idiot” to your forehead so people will not have to wait for you to speak…

  36. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san: The laws of physics or something say that you can post an infinite number of comments that are nearly-related to the question. I’d have to respond an infinite number of times saying “that’s not really what we were talking about”. Or, I could just hope that the reader will notice.

  37. gVOR08 says:

    @Pinky: I don’t know about Burkman, but a few years ago the Republicans were forcing the lobbying shops to hire Republicans. Tom Delay as Republican Whip was providing short lists off approved candidates for any open slots. In the aftermath, it’s fair to call most of them Republican lobbyists. WIKI “K street project”.

  38. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    You are talking about how we can pretend that Jack Burkman is not a GOP insider, and how we can pretend that socons are not dedicated to maintaining second class citizenship in America for people they don’t like.

    That is not the topic at hand, it’s simply more of your prattle.

  39. anjin-san says:

    Having lived in the bay area for over half a century, I’ve know a lot of gay men. I’m fairly certain that I’ve showered with gay men, after sports practice in school, at the gym, after a round of golf, whatever. I don’t care, and neither does my mother.

    I’ve had gay men flirt with me, and I have had gay men hit on me in no uncertain terms.

    It’s never bothered me. It never made me feel like anyone involved had low morals. It never threatened my manhood or made a mockery of my marriage.

    One thing has remained fairly constant. Scratch a homophobe, and you will find a man who is deeply unsure of his own masculinity, or you will find latency and self-loathing. Sometimes both.

  40. john personna says:

    FWIW, I agree with some above (pinky) that this is digging pretty deep, finding some lobbyist with a stupid idea.

    What’s next, a link to an internet commenter?

    That no elected official, or party official, wants to be caught within 100 miles of this proposal shows how off the reservation it is.

  41. anjin-san says:

    @ john personna

    Right. All the GOP crazy in on the fringe. Like Limbaugh saying Democrats would support the AZ hate law if they thought Muslims were behind it. Or like him saying that Brewer was being pressured by the “homosexual lobby” (aka the Chamber of Commerce), or like Fox commentators saying that slavery was dying on it’s own and there was no need for the Civil War.

    I could go on, well, forever, but I think you get the point.

  42. ernieyeball says:

    Downvote for Lewis Carroll! Off with their head!

  43. Now Democrat lobbyists write healthcare bill that actually passes Congress and is signed into law — that would be a real story.