Last we checked in with Torii Hunter's thoughts about gay players in the locker room, he was saying just the sort of thing that makes gay ballplayers reticent about coming out of the closet:
For me, as a Christian…I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it's not right. It will be difficult and uncomfortable.
But that was two years ago! When Torii Hunter made those comments, only eight states allowed same-sex couples to marry. Now 32 do. There has been a sea change in how this country views same-sex marriage, and maybe Hunter has gotten caught up in it.
Yeah right. Hunter, who is from Arkansas, dropped a radio ad yesterday in support of Asa Hutchinson (R) in his Arkansas gubernatorial race against Mike Ross (D).
Here's the transcript:
This is Pine Bluff native and Major League Baseball Player Torii Hunter. I'm asking you to vote for my friend Asa Hutchinson for Governor. Dr. King said that men should be judged by the content of their character. Today we too often prejudge political candidates by their party label. I'm asking you to consider Asa for his actions.
As a lawyer, Asa fought for more majority African-American districts in the state legislature. Asa is committed to the principles we hold dear, like a strong faith in God, equal justice for all, and keeping marriage between one man and one woman. Asa wants all children to have access to computer science, to expand charter schools, and bring more jobs and small businesses into our communities. Asa won't take your vote for granted. Let's make real change in our community by casting party labels aside and voting our convictions.
The latest polls have Hutchinson running anywhere from two to nine points ahead of Ross, but he's evidently worried enough to enlist Hunter's help in appealing to Arkansas's African-American population.
There are a lot of interesting race politics involved here. For one, while African-Americans generally oppose gay marriage in higher numbers than other races do across the country, in Arkansas that's not true. A 2013 poll found that 38% of Arkansans overall supported gay marriage, but 47% of African-American Arkansans did. The legality of gay marriage in Arkansas is currently in limbo, with a circuit court judge ruling Arkansas's ban unconstitutional, but the state Supreme Court staying it.
Hunter's claim that Hutchinson "fought for more majority African-American districts in the state legislature" is also up for debate. An Arkansas Times article about the ad describes the situation very differently:
Asa Hutchinson, the Republican, who once engineered a black-packing congressional redistricting plan as Arkansas Republican chair to diminish the influence of black voters in all but one Delta district (he was in league with a Democratic black legislator who later went to prison).
To invert a refrain often lobbed at sports writers, maybe Torii Hunter should stick to sports.
Photo via Jeff Gross/Getty