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    The Soccer Kiss that Continues to Rock the World

    kaiwayFriday, June 26, Washington DC: The United States Supreme Court ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, and guaranteed LGBT couples the right to marry and have their marriages legally recognized in all 50 states and all US territories and jurisdictions. This sweeping landmark decision came in perfect timing to kick off one of the most joyful LGBT Pride weekends ever!

    Sunday, July 5, Vancouver, British Columbia: The United States Women’s Soccer Team won the World Cup in an awe-inspiring towering 5–2 victory over Japan. Just as the game ended, celebrations exploded with a kiss seen ‘round the world as American soccer superstar Abby Wambach ran straight over to the stands where her wife was watching and cheering. The two stretched to meet in one of the most indelible images and historic embraces we could ever hope to see! Reporter Christian Datoc of The Daily Caller described the moment:

    “Needless to say, emotions were running wild for one of the greatest players in U.S. Women’s soccer history on Sunday, and as stoppage time expired she celebrated the historic win with a most ‘2015-esque’ gesture: locking lips with her wife, Sarah Huffman.”

    Decades of hard and often grueling work went into both of these victories. Not only do the phenomenal wins feel fantastic, but they also profoundly change the landscape for LGBT people and families across the land, and for women and gay people throughout the sports world.

    The Supreme Court decision just 10 days before the World Cup finale must have encouraged Wambach to so freely do what heterosexual victors have always been able to do and take for granted: first thing, hug and kiss your spouse! Openly, publicly, happily, and with everyone smiling, lauding and applauding your joy and athletic achievement.

    kaiWambach is one of the most decorated American soccer players of all time. She was a 3-time collegiate all-American; national U.S. women’s soccer team member since 2001; 6-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award; FIFA World Player of the Year in 2012; and is a 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist. Known for her ‘diving headers,’ she currently holds the national record for all-time goal scoring as well as international goal scores by any female or male soccer player. This May, she was named in Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.

    At age 35, Wambach went into the 2015 World Cup final game as the personal finale to her incredible career. How wonderful that she could go out in such grand and gay style! Abby and Sarah, longtime partners, were married in 2013 in Hawaii. That World Cup kiss was surely thrilling for them, and was just huge for the world! Tweeters marveled at mil
    lions seeing it on TV with the sense of happy ‘awws’ instead of nasty boos in response. What a fitting expression it was of our community’s new freedom to love openly, just like any and everyone else.

    While Wambach has said she was always comfortable with whom she is, we know that being an out-athlete is still a rarity. Even in 2015, being out in the sports world remains scary and costly for famous greats, much less for young high school, collegiate and professional hopefuls. Why has publicly kissing your wife been okay for a happy male athlete in the throes of victory, but not for a female athlete? Why has she been only “allowed” to be seen kissing a boyfriend or husband or, if she’s “suspected” of being a lesbian, to have to kiss her partner off-camera or seem as if she’s single?

    This kiss is truly part of changing all of that! Abby and Sarah’s beautiful celebration together could finally happen for the entire world to see, totally spontaneously and naturally. The moment was lost on no one. I hope it made everyone think about how wrong it has been, for far too long, that only straight athletes and other such public figures could have their spouses and families by their side.

    The Women’s World Cup also brings to the fore ongoing sexism and the need to keep working to secure equal opportunity and pay for women. With all the honor and ecstasy the U.S. soccer champions generated, their victory marked only the first time in history that a women’s sports team was feted with a Manhattan ticker-tape parade. Over 25 million people watched the women’s finale on TV, creating record ratings and more viewers than have ever tuned in to any men’s soccer event. Yet the day after the big game, cultural history professor Amy Bass commented in an article for CNN:

    “As in most every realm in society, women play second fiddle in the world of soccer. Unlike the men, they play on artificial turf. The now embattled head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, suggested ‘tighter shorts’ might be the way to better popularizing the women’s game. Their paychecks are smaller, and their media coverage lags behind men’s.”

    The average salary for a U.S. men’s soccer league player is $305,000 compared to $14,000 for a woman. The World Cup men’s winners from Germany were awarded $35 million while the American women received $2 million. While working women in the U.S. still make 77 cents on average for every dollar a man is paid, the tiny fraction even world champion female soccer players earn compared to men is just outrageous and incredulous.

    Against the backdrop of the Supreme Court rulings, Abby Wabach’s heroic same-sex kiss has brought home—literally right into millions of homes—new realities that all of our social change efforts are bringing about. There is no turning back each new progressive law of this land, and no undoing that victorious kiss!

    Jamie Leno Zimron is an LPGA Pro, Aikido 5th Degree Black Belt, and Corporate Speaker-Trainer. Please check out her website: http://www.thekiaiway.com