We live in a free country with freedom of speech. Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo exercises this right by openly supporting same-sex marriage. In 2009, he wrote an article for The Huffington Post, “Same Sex Marriages: What’s the Big Deal?”. He also advocated for the cause by appearing in YouTube videos for Equity Maryland.
Most recently Ayanbadejo contributed a pair of Ravens tickets to a fundraiser for Marriage Equity. This donation upset Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns of Baltimore County. Burns was so upset that he wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti asking him to intervene.
WBAL TV in Baltimore obtained a copy of the letter in which Burns wrote:
“Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other,”
He went on to say:
“Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement. I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base.”
Ayanbadejo was “shocked” after he read the letter:
“For him to be a delegate, I was kind of shocked that he would want to silence me and tell me to stick to football in a free country,” he said. “People have died to have those rights to be able to voice those opinions – no matter what their opinions are.”
Ayanbadejo spoke with Bisciotti and went on to speak with Ravens’ president Dick Cass. He was worried that his actions would affect the Ravens fan base
Cass told Ayanbadejo that the Ravens have his back:
“[He said] we’re in support of you and it’s good that you’re able to voice your opinion and say how you feel,” Ayanbadejo said. “Dick personally told me, ‘We’re not an organization that discriminates.’”
Ayanbadejo supports same-sex marriage; it is something he can relate to on a personal level. He is interracial and it feels like the racial discrimination he faced as a child, he has a Nigerian father and Irish mother.
He supports his stance:
“So when there was a discrimination issue, I could relate and I could understand whatever the issue was. I felt like I’ve been there, I’ve been in your shoes. It might be, ‘No, I’m not gay,’ But because I’m interracial I can identify with them. It really made me empathetic to different issues, especially when it came to equality.”
Another football player in the National Football league came to Ayanbadejo’s defense. Minnesota Vikings’ punter Chris Kluwe wrote a letter (warning: his letter contains “salty” language, not for the faint of heart or easily offended) to Burns supporting Ayanbadejo.
I also support same-sex marriage and I commend Ayanbadejo for being vocal and advocating for this cause. I fully respect him for exercising his freedom of speech.
I’m also proud of the Ravens organization for supporting Ayanbadejo. Burns is despicable and he sickens me.