Are the Miami Dolphins doing enough to offset their homophobic footprint?
Extract from my intervention at the 4Ward Americas Symposium in Miami
February 14, 2020
Let me preface this by indicating my understanding that one does not choose its ownership and that the Dolphins are not the only NFL team embattled on this issue. Yet, the Dolphins cannot ignore that their ownership by Stephen Ross is not inconsequential for LGBTI people. Just last August, Trump raised $12 million thanks to Stephen Ross’s Hamptons fundraiser.
It is not about politics. It is about human rights. Donald Trump is not the candidate of human rights or LGBT rights. He has done irreparable damage to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has stigmatized our vulnerable trans brothers and sisters. Supporting him financially, like M. Ross does in a substantial manner, is contributing to fight the human rights of LGBTI people period.
My previous boss, the former United Nations High Commissioner Prince Zeid for Human Rights was very clear on that question. Before the U.S. election, Zeid stood in front of the U.N. General Assembly and described Trump as a “race-baiting bigot who seek to gain, or retain, power by wielding prejudice and deceit at the expense of those most vulnerable.” He subsequently lost his chance at a second term because of Trump’s victory.
The sad truth is that every time a Dolphin runs in the field, the noose on the neck of our trans brothers and sisters gets a little tighter. The question for the Dolphins is what does the team do to counter this negative effect? Every year I offset my carbon footprint through the Carbon Fund. What do the Miami Dolphins do to offset their homophobic footprint?
In 2018, the revenue of the Miami Dolphins was 443 million U.S. dollars. How much of that money was spent supporting the organizations trying to fight the waves of anti-LGBT bills popping up in the US as a result of Trump’s anti-LGBT rhetoric? I understand that the Miami Dolphins FOOTBALL UNITES program has partnered with Miami Beach Pride on a series of events throughout the community and is a partner of today’s event, but we need to get down to the numbers to understand the authenticity of their engagement with our embattled community. Is a $5,000 contribution to a Florida Equality event enough?
I made similar calculation when looking at my Equinox membership in July this year. Equinox is another business venture of M. Ross. My conclusion was that Equinox was not authentic in its engagement with the LGBTI community and that I could not be an ally to the fight for LGBTI equality and be a member of Equinox. The two are irreconcilable. Either you are a member of Equinox and indirectly funding Trump’s policies or you are not. (See my previous post: The great EquinoxExodus, conscious consumption and human rights of LGBTI people).
I am wary of the ‘pro-LGBTI” companies that pay lip-service to the issue even while sometimes funding political campaigns that are directly hurting the community (AT&T was in the hot seat recently, GE, Home Depot and Pfizer too). To change the paradigm, the community needs to build accountability and incentive mechanisms to ensure that a fair exchange is at the root of the “pro-LGBT label” that many of these companies enjoy. This question is particularly stringent for companies whose owner are financially contributing to campaigns for politicians that use LGBTI people as pawns in a political game.