The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus has been starkly critical of Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres after the team mishandled the group's scheduled performance of "The Star- Spangled Banner" at Saturday's game. A recording of a woman singing the anthem played over the chorus as it was set to perform.
There was no attempt to correct the situation, the chorus said in a statement Sunday morning, adding that the group's 100 members were subject to taunts like, "You sing like a girl," as they were escorted off the field.
The group called for the league to look into the matter in its statement, which read, in part:
"...the San Diego Padres and Major League Baseball to immediately launch a full and transparent investigation into the incident to determine if someone or some people intentionally engaged in anti-gay discrimination or a hate crime by playing a female’s voice to represent a group of gay men with the purpose of denigrating and/or ridiculing gay men. The historic significance of such an act is not lost on the LGBT community—especially in relation to professional sports—and added to the depth of embarrassment experienced by the singers and their families."
After issuing a brief statement the night of the game, the Padres issued an apology online just after midnight Monday, saying an employee had been disciplined but the franchise found no "evidence of malicious intent."
"The Padres organization is proud of our longstanding commitment to inclusion — within our sport and our community," the statement read. "We deeply regret that a mistake on our part called this into question, but accept full responsibility."
Billy Bean, a former Padres player who came out as gay after his playing days and current MLB vice president of social responsibility and inclusion, backed his former team in a statement, saying they have been supportive of LGBT inclusion.
The Padres controversy comes at time in which the MLB is making a concerted effort to include the LGBT community. It announced in March a partnership with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to work with more LGBT-owned businesses. The New York Mets in 2016 joined a growing list of franchises that officially sponsor an LGBT night at the ballpark.
The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus said in its statement that top Padres officials had reached out to set up a meeting to discuss the incident.