Sean Avery is continuing his crusade on the issue of marriage equality and gay rights. Just days after New York State passed a law that grants same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, a process in which Avery's voice was heard via a TV commercial, the Rangers forward thinks that the NHL should step up and play a bigger role in the issue.
"I understand that the NHL represents 30 different owners who come from different backgrounds and hold different viewpoints, but I think it would be meaningful for Gary [commissioner Bettman] and the Board of Governors to open themselves up for conversation about this issue," Avery told The Post yesterday.
"It would be great for the NHL to take the lead among professional sports leagues in terms of social equality and justice and be out front and progressive regarding issues like this."
Avery went on to discuss how the environment in the NHL is not really suitable for a gay player to come out and speak openly about the issue right now, but that's something that would obviously change if the league as a whole stepped up with one collective voice on the matter.
Practically, it's probably not something that will happen. Avery admits as much by pointing out that the league is representative of a lot of different voices and opinions, and that stepping up on such a controversial topic won't be easy.
But Avery's real goal seems to be simple discussion, and that was his hope back when he recorded a public service announcement for the Human Rights Coalition back in May. The commercial made waves all around the hockey community and served to get the gay rights issue back into the conversation around the sport, as it had been kind of absent in the dialogue since the death of Brendan Burke in early 2010.
The commercial and Avery's stance got even more publicity when Uptown Sports, an agency representing several NHL players, openly criticized it. That move served only to open the discussion even further, and now, Avery is speaking out again to keep the in the limelight.
The NHL could completely ignore Avery's comments to the New York Post, but the fact that they've been written about and will be discussed is enough to keep the topic of gay rights alive in the hockey world.