SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Jose Sharks took to the ice Saturday night in jerseys clad in colors supporting the LGBTQ+ community but goaltender James Reimer refused to take part, citing his Christian beliefs.
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"In this specific instance I'm personally choosing not to endorse something -- sexual identity or orientation -- which are based on the Bible which I consider the highest authority in my life," said the 13-year NHL veteran. "I wrestled with it because I know the initial reaction to putting out a statement like this or showing up to warmups and not wearing the jersey can come across offensive or slap in the face."
"What he believes has harmed our community throughout history and it's harming us right now," said Suzanne Ford, executive director of San Francisco Pride. "The San Jose Sharks by itself ought to mean inclusion because it's here in the Bay Area and people in the Bay Area support the San Jose Sharks."
The San Jose Sharks said in a statement: " . . . we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves . . . as an organization we will not waiver in support of the LGBTQIA+ community."
Fans also weighed in, including San Jose Councilmember Omar Torres who was there for the game.
"I'm very disappointed that James Reimer decided not to wear the pride jersey," he said, pointing to the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the nation. "The LGBTQ community is under attack. They are being villainized and dehumanized, and it's very unfortunate he's not wearing the jersey this evening."
"I honestly think it's right to choose. He can do what he wants. Everyone's going to have an opinion, but if that's what he wants to do it's what he wants to do." said Sharks fan Jordyn Perez.
"I believe that's his right to express his beliefs and views how he wants to if he's not being aggressive or angry about it. Not wearing a jersey shouldn't be that big of deal," added fellow fan, Ben Krainbrink.
But Ford says not putting on the pride-themed jersey sends a dangerous message.
"We have suffered under the yoke of people thinking and acting like that. And we have been afraid of it. I know it kept me in the closet, and I'm not going to stand for it," Ford said. "I'll meet him wherever he wants to talk about it."
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