The Courage Campaign hosted the 2nd Annual Spirit of Courage Awards Thursday night at the Petersen Automotive Museum in an effort to recognize advocates for equality.
The event honored Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke and Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke for their efforts to support equality, because, as the Mighty Ducks’ owners Henry and Susan Samueli put it: “There is no room for homophobia in the NHL or any other sports league.”
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris was also recognized for her work to protect homeowners and the LGBT community at large.
Those in attendance included L.A. Kings captain Dustin Brown, John O’Hurley, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Ling, Jerry Bruckheimer and Sandra Fluke. But the Burke father-son duo stole the spotlight for the night.
The pair’s You Can Play organization -- created in honor of their late son and brother Brendan Burke, a gay hockey player -- preaches acceptance for all athletes, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. You Can Play ultimately strives to end homophobia in sports.
Avid hockey fan Bruckheimer, who is on the Kings’ Hollywood Advisory Board and has been a season-ticket holder since 1988, said: “It’s wonderful that Brian and Patrick are being honored by the Courage Campaign Institute, which will further help the world to accept the simple fact that on the field or in the arena, what really matters -- and all that should matter -- is the skill and heart of the athlete.”
The race for equality may still be a work in progress, but Rick Jacobs, Founder and Chair of the Courage Campaign, believes it’s a race that’s well on its way.
“At last night's event, both Wayne Gretzky, the best hockey player in history and Dustin Brown, the captain of the Stanley Cup-winning L.A. Kings hockey team, literally stood up for full equality in hockey and sports in general,” Jacobs said. "Dustin and his wife are under 30 years of age, they have three kids and they clearly could care less about who is gay and who is not. They care about family and hockey. This is the leading edge of what we see in the rest of professional sports."