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posted: 2/10/2014 5:30 AM

Give Cubs a gold medal for Pride Parade decision

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Gays and gay issues are everywhere in the news these days.

Most prominent during the past week have been reports of Russia's anti-gay policies surrounding the current Sochi Winter Olympics.

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This is a fluid situation, so perhaps even more significant might be that NFL draft prospect Michael Sam, an all-American defensive end from Missouri, declared Sunday that he is gay.

But my favorite is the minor matter closer to home that to me is a story because it was in essence no big deal outside of being worth more than a handful of gold medals.

With little fanfare, the Cubs adjusted their 2014 schedule to avoid a conflict with Chicago's Pride Parade. Originally they were to play a Saturday game and a Sunday game but changed to a Saturday day-night doubleheader and a rare Sunday off-day. That's no small concession, by the way.

The Cubs' ownership family -- which includes openly gay Laura Ricketts -- had several reasons to make the move: Some Wrigley Field customers would be tied up in traffic if both a game and a parade were set for that Sunday; the Cubs need to be good neighbors to have any chance that ballpark renovations will move forward; alderman/community spokesman/watchdog Tom Tunney is gay.

But the Cubs likely also made the gesture to the gay community because it was the fair thing to do regardless of what group was being celebrated with a parade.

This often is how America works as social, political and economic interests combine to make something happen.

The occupy folks might disagree about the merits of capitalism, but it's good for business to integrate as many consumers as possible into the market. Men, women, whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and, yes, gays all are welcome to purchase Cubs tickets.

Look, this country's way isn't always right any more than the Russia's way is always wrong. Like, if Sam makes it to the NFL he would be the only openly gay man to play in one of our major team sports leagues.

One of the beauties of America is our diversity. One of the consequences of diversity is that not all 310 million Americans are going to agree on any single issue, and the disagreements can be bitter.

Pockets of people in the United States wouldn't want gays moving into their neighborhood, much less parading through town. They have a right to their opinions. But in this country if they do something violent about it there are hate-crime laws to punish them.

Consider that America has evolved to the point that openly gay Ellen DeGeneres will host the Oscars again, openly gay Neil Patrick Harris hosted the Emmys last year and a couple of Chevy ads during Olympic coverage feature gay couples.

As a political strategist noted on one of the Sunday morning news programs, the gay-rights movement is one of the most rapidly advancing ever as opposed to Russia going in the other direction.

First of all, would a Pride Parade even dare be scheduled over there? Second of all, how hard would the government crack down on it? Third of all, would there even be a third of all?

Trying to impose our values on the Russians concerning this subject wouldn't succeed. They're going to have to sort it out for themselves. The best we can do is lead by the example of treating all of our own people with respect.

The Cubs' decision to avoid a scheduling conflict with the Pride Parade is one quiet example that speaks loudly in its matter-of-factness.

What a wonderful contrast to reports of the anti-gay measures at Sochi.

Whether we win more medals than the Russians isn't as important as winning on this subject.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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