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San Diego Gay Men's Chorus Muted During National Anthem Before Padres Game

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On Saturday evening, the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus was all set to sing the national anthem before the Padres played the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Field. But when the group of a hundred men began to sing, a recording of a woman's voice singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played instead, drowning out the chorus.

A post on the group's Facebook page described the incident as "a nightmare" that raised "serious questions about homophobia within the San Diego Padres organization and its relationship with the LGBT community." The post describes how it went down:

No attempt was made to stop the recording and start over. No announcement of apology was made to the singers or their friends and families in the stands. No attempt to correct the situation occurred other than to force the 100 men to stand in the spotlight of center field for the song's duration and then be escorted off the field to the heckles of baseball fans shouting homophobic taunts including "You sing like a girl."
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And, according to the same post, it didn't appear to be an isolated incident.

Three days before the game, San Diego Padres representatives aggressively sought to prevent singers from performing the National Anthem unless they purchased a ticket to the game—even if they did not plan to stay for the game—which was not part of any previous discussion or written or verbal agreement and would have cost the small, community-based non-profit thousands of dollars. The demand eventually was rescinded on Friday following repeated complaints made by SDGMC and San Diego Pride to San Diego Padres management.

The chorus also called for a full investigation by the San Diego City Attorney's office "to determine if someone or some people intentionally engaged in anti-gay discrimination or a hate crime by playing a female’s voice to represent a group of gay men with the purpose of denigrating and/or ridiculing gay men."

One member of the chorus, Dan England, told the San Diego Union-Tribune:

I just felt this dread come over me because I was so embarrassed...Some of us started to sing along. After that, we just stood there. We thought they would ask us to sing, but they just asked us to leave the field.

"We were just excited to be at a game and let the audience see us and hear us and let us know that we're sports fans too, and we're normal guys, and then a woman sings over us, and it was mortifying" RC Haus, the chorus's artistic director told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Deadspin reports that the Padres apologized, and said in a statement that it was a technical error: they were supposed to play a pre-recorded version of the chorus performing the national anthem. But the version that went out over the PA system was a recording of the woman who had sung the anthem for Friday night's game.

The team issued a longer apology/explanation on Sunday evening, and said that the "third party contractor" responsible was terminated:

Former Padre Billy Bean, who came out as gay after he retired and is now the MLB's "Ambassador for Inclusion," tweeted his support for the team, who he said is actually pretty good when it comes to interacting with the LGBT community.

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The chorus's Facebook page has been flooded with support from other gay men choirs around the country, including ones in Philadelphia and Chicago. On Twitter, the Padres said they have offered the chorus another opportunity to perform.

Perhaps Sunday's nasty 17-inning loss for the Padres at the hands of this season's less-than-stellar Dodgers was karma for the "unintentional mistake."

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