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San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus Still Hurting After National Anthem Mishap

Hear a recording of the choir’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that was supposed to play at Saturday’s Padres game at the end of the audio of this segment below

Photo credit: Tom Felkner

An image of The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus on the jumbo tron at Petco Park as they prepare to sing the National Anthem on May 21, 2016.

San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus Still Hurting After National Anthem Mishap

GUEST:

Bob Lehman, executive director, San Diego Gay Men's Chorus

The San Diego Padres have taken heat this week following a control room mishap that left the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus voiceless at Saturday night's game at Petco Park.

The chorus had assembled on the field before Saturday’s match, waiting to perform along with their recording of the national anthem. But a recording by a female singer played instead.

The team has issued an apology for the mistake. And although its investigation found "no evidence of malicious intent," The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that it terminated its relationship with Art Romero, the contractor responsible for the incident.

Lehman has since met with the Padres’ CEO and the chorus has asked the team to rehire Romero.

RELATED: Support Grows For DJ Fired By Padres For National Anthem Mishap

Lehman said the situation is still difficult for the 100-member chorus.

He said one young member from North Carolina had anticipated the event as a way to connect with his dad, who has had difficulty accepting that his son is gay.

“The days leading up to it, he had talked to his father and said that ‘I'm going to be in a National League baseball field singing the national anthem,’” Lehman said. “He was so proud of that … So he lost that moment to share that special time of singing in front of 40,000 people with his dad back in North Carolina. You can understand the disappointment for somebody like that. It was a once in a lifetime chance.”

Lehman said that San Diego’s gay community has been through many struggles.

“I came to San Diego 30 years ago. And when I got out of the military, my very first experience was marching in the Veterans Day parade and having a marine colonel turn his back on me as we passed through a viewing stand,” he said.

He said he once had to start a citizens patrol because gay men were attacked in parks. And along with the outpouring of support following Saturday’s incident, hateful comments came as well, Lehman said.

“(The Padres’ CEO) agrees that we need to fix that in our community, so everybody can go to the park and feel safe and welcome and love the Padres as much as everyone else,” Lehman said.

Midday Edition had asked if the choir could sing on the show. But Lehman said that with emotions still raw, it was too soon for the group’s members. Listeners can instead hear a recording of the choir’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that was supposed to play at Saturday’s Padres game at the end of the audio of the segment above.

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