[UPDATE 11:57 a.m. EST] Deputy Director of Communications for The Human Rights Campaign Paul Guequierre commented on the legitimacy of Burkman’s boycott to IB Times.
“Jack Burkman is someone who cannot be taken seriously,” Guequierre stated in an email. “The NFL is ready for an openly gay player and so is America. Jack Burkman is out of touch and a laughingstock. His boycott will go nowhere”
A Christian lobbyist has launched a boycott against the St. Louis Rams, openly gay defensive end Michael Sam, and credit card giant Visa.
In February, Jack Burkman, who head’s his Washington-based firm JM Burkman & Assoc., vowed to boycott any team or company that works with Sam and he has stayed true to his word. Burkman said the Rams and Sam are violating Christian beliefs, and that he's mobilized a grassroots campaign made up of a coalition of Christian leaders in 27 of the 50 U.S. states, according to The Independent.
“Visa and the Rams will learn that when you trample the Christian community and Christian values, there will be a terrible financial price to pay,” said Burkman.
“Openly gay football players send a terrible message to our youth about morality. Somebody needs to step up because the moral fiber of the nation is eroding.”
Burkman said the protest will discourage Rams fans from attending future games or from buying the team’s merchandise and they will also be asked to cease use of their Visa cards and sell any stock they own in the company. Sam’s jersey is already one of the top sellers among rookies, ranking second only to Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel.
The Rams selected the 24-year-old SEC Defensive Player of the year in the seventh round of the NFL Draft last weekend, making Sam the first openly gay player ever drafted. The Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher said they wanted to be part of history when they selected Sam 249th overall.
While Sam’s selection has drawn overwhelming support around the league, there were some detractors like Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones, who took to Twitter to his disapprove of Sam kissing his boyfriend after he was drafted. Jones was later fined and suspended by the team.
Along with the 11 other players it picked in the draft, St. Louis introduced Sam at a press conference on Tuesday.
"We've heard a lot of praise, a lot of people excited about the leadership and steps we took," said Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff. "Certainly, we've heard some negative as well. You're going to get both throughout the process. If you're going to take a leadership position by drafting Michael, you've got to expect both the good and the bad.
"We'll prepare for it, and I think we'll shine through it."
Visa announced its endorsement deal with Sam just ahead of the draft, and his first commercial also premiered ahead of the draft. Visa has also enjoyed a long-standing business relationship with the NFL and its teams.
Visa has sponsored the NFL since 1995, according to the company’s official site, and it’s the “Exclusive Payment Services” sponsor for NFL and all official league events. For the upcoming season, Visa will work exclusively with 12 teams, including Denver, New England, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh.