All but one of the 30 of the Major League Baseball teams are hosting Pride Nights this season, most during Pride Month, which celebrates and supports LGBTQ+ culture and rights.
The Texas Rangers are the only team without a Pride Night. They say they are committed to making everyone feel welcome at all games.
HAVE THE RANGERS EVER HOSTED A PRIDE NIGHT?
No. In September 2003, two years after the Chicago Cubs hosted what is considered the first Pride game, the Rangers invited local LGBTQ+ groups to a game as part of a fundraising event, similar to what they do for all kinds of groups throughout each season. There were some Rangers fans who expressed opposition through a website beforehand and, while not widespread, there were some protests outside the stadium before that game.
WHAT DO THE RANGERS SAY ABOUT NOT HOSTING A PRIDE NIGHT?
The team has been consistent with its response when asked: “Our commitment is to make everyone feel welcome and included in Rangers baseball. That means in our ballpark, at every game, and in all we do — for both our fans and our employees. We deliver on that promise across our many programs to have a positive impact across our entire community.”
WHAT ROLE COULD TEXAS POLITICS PLAY IN THE DECISION?
Texas has been dominated by Republicans for a generation, and state lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott this year joined the push from many conservative states to limit LBGTQ+ rights.
The Legislature this year passed new laws expanding definitions of prohibited sexual content in public performances and in school books, and activists fear those measures will be used to target drag shows and ban LGBTQ+ literature from libraries and classrooms.
Texas become the most populous of at least 19 states to ban gender-affirming care for minors. And Texas public universities must dismantle diversity, equity and inclusion offices and training starting in 2024.
Abbott also signed into law the “Save Women’s Sports Act” that bars transgender college athletes from competing on teams that match their gender identity. Texas already had a similar law for high school athletes.
Amid that conservative political landscape, there is less outside resistance in their home market to the Rangers not having a Pride Night.
Rangers majority owner Ray C. Davis has donated at least $225,000 to Texans for Greg Abbott since July 2021, according to state campaign finance records.
WHY DO THE HOUSTON ASTROS HAVE A PRIDE NIGHT, BUT RANGERS DO NOT?
The Astros hosted their first Pride Night in 2021. Houston, the state's most-populated city with about 2.3 million people in a metro area of about 6.7 million, is one of the biggest strongholds for Democrats in Texas. Another is Dallas, not far from the Rangers' home ballpark.
A majority of the elected officials in Houston and Dallas are Democrats. The Rangers' ballpark in Arlington, Texas, is just off Interstate 30, halfway between downtown Fort Worth and downtown Dallas.
DO THE RANGERS DO ANYTHING TO SUPPORT THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY?
The Rangers were a sponsor of the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series last August when the event took place in Dallas and Waxahachie. The club participated in the opening ceremonies in Dallas and worked with the local organizers and NAGAAA officials on several initiatives for the event.
The team is working on initiatives with local groups, including the Pegasus Slow-Pitch Softball Association, which promotes quality amateur softball at all levels of play with a special emphasis on the participation of members of the LGBTQ+ community.
That softball organization is promoting on its website a PSSA night at Globe Life Field next month, with the group reserving a large block of tickets like any groups are able to do. In those cases, the groups, not the team, handle the promotion and coordination of tickets.
The Rangers have worked for several years with the Resource Center, which provides programs and assistance to LGBTQ+ communities and anyone impacted in North Dallas by HIV/AIDS through advocacy, health and education. Team employees volunteer and support Resource Center events.
An Inclusion and Community Impact Council was developed by the team to foster conversations, ideas and programs to support employees internally and to the community externally. Rangers employees participate in anti-harassment programs, and education programs offered by MLB.