The relationship between business executives entering the political sphere and the organizations they run has been an especially hot topic, ever since Donald Trump entered the 2016 presidential race.
The latest example of such centers on a conservative voice in perhaps the most progressive major American sports league: the WNBA. Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler is a self-proclaimed “pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall and pro-Trump” lifelong conservative, Loeffler joined the Dream ownership in 2011 amidst the team’s most successful period, culminating in an Eastern Conference titles in 2011 and 2013.
But Loeffler is just days away from starting her new job as a U.S. Senator after being appointed to replace the retiring Johnny Isakson by the controversial governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp. She will take the oath despite heavy opposition from far right conservatives, Fox News and the president himself, and will have to fight to keep her seat. Both she and Sen. David Perdue are on the ballot in 2020.
While her promise to fight Trump’s removal following his impeachment shouldn’t surprise anyone, one issue she supports is of much more interest to the league she bought into: religious liberty.
Loeffler isn’t shy about her belief that legislation should be in place to protect one’s ability “to act according to our religious beliefs.” She reiterated such in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, stating, “I believe that people of faith should be free to make statements without fear of persecution.”
Her comments represent an effort to distance herself from the team she owns after the Atlanta Dream joined a number of other Georgia businesses to oppose religious liberty legislation in 2016. Those businesses joined countless individuals who view religious liberty policy as an excuse to legally discriminate against LGBTQ people.
It should be noted that a 2017 AJC poll showed that 44% of Georgia voters oppose the revival of any religious liberty legislation while 40% support such a move.
That position is why Loeffler’s connection to the WNBA is so interesting. The WNBA is home to a large amount of LGBTQ players and is the only major American sports organization that celebrates Pride month for the entire month of June.
It appears that Loeffler is perfectly fine making money off T-shirts featuring a rainbow-clad version of the Dream’s logo while also advocating for legal discrimination of the people to whom that symbol appeals.
For what it’s worth, Loeffler stated her belief that “we should treat all people with love and respect” to the AJC as well. But that sentiment comes across as little more than lip service when paired with her stance on the divisive policy.
Loeffler is scheduled to take office on Jan. 1, 2020.