On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that gay marriage is legal in all 50 states. Almost immediately, NWSL clubs started to celebrate the news. Even US Soccer itself got in on the good word. Here's a sampling of tweets:
Chicago Red Stars (@chicagoredstars) June 26, 2015
Seattle Reign FC (@SeattleReignFC) June 26, 2015
Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) June 26, 2015
Houston Dash (@HoustonDash) June 26, 2015
"As a club we have hosted a pride night multiple years running and have always supported open dialogue and initiatives towards an inclusive environment on and off the field for all people," said Chicago Red Stars GM Alyse LaHue. "There is no one-size-fits-all Red Stars fan, player or staff member. We encourage individuality and aim for an open welcoming environment. Even though we aim to raise awareness and acceptance through our specified Pride Night date, it's important for fans to know that Pride is something we celebrate year round."
The Houston Dash and the WNY Flash are offering rainbow merchandise. Chicago and Sky Blue FC will have pride nights. NWSL clubs seem to have wholeheartedly embraced both their LGBT players and fans.
"Very similar to what we do with groups throughout the season, the Pride shirt was created as a part of a ticket package for an upcoming game. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from our players and fans alike," said Houston Dash GM Brian Ching. "We value every person who stands behind our organization, this league and our players. Our fans, players and coaches come from different backgrounds and have many different beliefs, but when we come together, we all have the same goal in mind. We all want to support and build a professional women's soccer league that will be around for years to come."
But one club is conspicuously absent from the well-wishes on social media: the Washington Spirit. The Spirit have been curiously radio silent on a decision that happened in their own back yard.
33 years later..... A day for celebration. My birthday will go down in history as a landmark day for human rights. Feeling so much love from my team, friends, fans, family and now the Supreme Court. Thank you to each and every person who sent bday wishes. I am lucky to have you as a part of my rainbow circus life journey. #LoveWins❤️ #BoyLady #JoHawk
When contacted, the Spirit's response was "At this time we do not have a comment on this matter." Why shouldn't the Spirit at the very least indicate they appreciate their LGBT fans and players? No one is asking the organization to become an advocate for LGBT issues. A positive acknowledgment of existence would suffice at this time. It costs nothing to make people who have historically felt unwelcome in public spaces feel that they are safe and wanted at Spirit games.
The Spirit's audience is not dissimilar to the audiences of most of other NWSL teams, and the other teams have seen fit to publicly announce their support of their LGBT fans and players. There hasn't been any discernible backlash against this support. There doesn't seem to be a reason for not doing it other than that the Spirit...simply don't want to.
If true, that's a shame. Women's soccer has become a place where fans can find not just tolerance, but acceptance. The Spirit should get onboard the equality train and tell their fans—all their fans—yes, we value you and thank you for your support.