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Looking Out: Is Horseshoe Casino Baltimore's newest LGBT ally?

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Looks like Baltimore's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community could have a big, flashy, deep-pocketed new ally in town in Horseshoe Casino on Russell Street, which opened Tuesday.

These days it's not uncommon for major corporations to tout their support for the LGBT community, but not all are as effusive in that support as Horseshoe's parent company, Caesars Entertainment.

If you scroll to the bottom of the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore's website, there is a list of 13 links for business and corporate information about the casino's slots and table games, hotels and local "things to do," and investor relations. But there's also a "LGBT Pride" link.

Click on that, and it takes you to the company's "microsite" devoted to its support of the LGBT community, where the first thing you'll read is the phrase, "We Always Root for 2 of a Kind," over a picture of two men's hands overlapping.

"Total Rewards by Caesars Entertainment is the premier casino company for the LGBT community," the website says, of Caesar's rewards program. It then goes on to mention the company's string of perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index and its involvement supporting LGBT organizations and pride events around the country.

"We pride ourselves as being a part of the LGBT community. We have employees, guests and neighbors who are extremely diverse and we foster an environment where you can come, have a great time, and really be yourself," the site says.

"Be yourself," it reads. "It's a good bet."

A Horseshoe spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it should be interesting to watch if Horseshoe reaches out in any big way to Baltimore's LGBT community, or perhaps even shows up as a major sponsor of Baltimore Pride next summer. (Caesars has supported pride in Las Vegas, and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore, which runs Pride here, was hard-up for major sponsors this past Pride.)

It wouldn't be the first time the casino industry has dipped its hand into issues affecting gay rights in Maryland.

In 2012, separate questions to expand gaming in the state and to allow for same-sex marriages here appeared on the same ballot. Ahead of the vote, casino interests were spending a lot of money to shape things in their favor. Some wanted expansion, while others -- with existing interests here and in neighboring states -- did not.

In one instance, Penn National Gaming, which opposed the gambling expansion measure, funded a mailer by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force -- before the gambling expansion measure had been passed -- that urged those in support of same-sex marriage to oppose a special session to approve the expansion.

Some LGBT rights advocates feared putting a gambling expansion measure on the ballot would fire up African-American churches, whose congregants they saw as being opposed to gambling, but also to same-sex marriage.

In another instance, a hopeful developer of a casino site at National Harbor, Peterson Cos., which supported the gambling expansion, provided funding to a group called the Republican Leaders Referendum Guide, which reportedly used it to create a sample ballot supporting gambling but opposing three other measures, including the one that would allow same-sex marriage.

In the end, both same-sex marriage and expanded gambling were approved by Maryland voters.

Now the question might just be whether Horseshoe Baltimore will be hosting any same-sex marriages, as Caesars has at other properties it owns.

Elsewhere in the world: 

- ESPN aired a widely criticized piece about the showering habits of Michael Sam and his teammates on the St. Louis Rams that basically insinuated that Sam's being openly gay was an issue shaping those habits. You can watch the segment and see some of the criticism here.

Fast forward, and ESPN issued an apology that read, "ESPN regrets the manner in which we presented our report. Clearly on Tuesday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports.

- Lawyers for Indiana and Wisconsin defending their states' laws banning same-sex marriage were treated to a barrage of critical questions from three judges in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals this week. Some have made the argument that the states' lawyers didn't make it that difficult for the judges to pick apart their arguments. (And yes, seriously, listen to the audio.)

The lawyers were chided, they were grilled. Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed called it "the most lopsided arguments over marriage bans at a federal appeals court this year," and that's saying something.

- The LGBT film "Vow of Silence" is being screened in Baltimore at 7 p.m. on Sept. 10 at 2640 St. Paul St. You can check out more on the film here.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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