- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A conservative think tank that focuses on family issues is crying foul over ESPN’s “political agenda,” after it aired footage from the NFL Draft that shows openly gay athlete Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend.

“Almost 250 picks in, no network devotes this much attention to seventh-round selections,” Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, wrote in his “Washington Update” late Monday. “From current players to former ones, the NFL’s athletes voiced their displeasure that ESPN would expose audiences to such a graphic political agenda.”

Mr. Sam, who starred on defense at the University of Missouri, is the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL. The St. Louis Rams selected him as the 249th pick overall.

Mr. Perkins’ daily bulletin frequently rails against growing support for same-sex marriage.

In Monday’s update, which included a link that leads to a story with a picture of the kiss, he defended athletes who stood up for “natural sexuality.”

One of those players, the Miami Dolphins’ Don Jones, was fined for a negative tweet about Mr. Sam’s selection.

“For players, who are losing the right to free speech — at least when it conflicts with the League’s agenda — this is a brave new world,” Mr. Perkins wrote.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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