. . . but Baltimore politician (Ayanbadejo plays for the Baltimore Ravens), Emmert C. Burns Jr., a democrat in the Maryland House of Delegates, sent a letter to the Baltimore Ravens asking them to silence their player's support for same-sex marriage (as reported by WBALTV, Yahoo! Sports and other sources). As reported by the Huffington Post:
In a letter dated August 29, 2012 and addressed to Ravens owner Steve Biscotti, Burns writes "I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo, would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Ravens football player."That's right, Mr. Burns (wow, that is somehow fitting), the NFL has been one of the most homophobic leagues in professional sports, so imagine how much strength and courage it takes for a player to support gay rights and same-sex marriage. By the way, dude, you are supposed to be a Democrat. What's up with that?
"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," wrote Burns, "and try to sway public opinion one way or another."
According to WBALTV, Burns became upset when he learned that Ayanbadejo had contributed a pair of Ravens tickets to a fundraiser for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. After expressing his dismay at Ayanbadejo's actions in his letter, Burns then asked the Ravens to silence the 36-year-old veteran.
"I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football League Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing."
CLICK HERE to see Burns' letter (H/T WBALTV)
This is not a new stance for Brendon Ayanbadejo, he began speaking out in support of same-sex marriage in a 2009 article for Huffington Post (he also filmed a public service announcement for Marylanders for Marriage Equality in 2011) - Burns seems to have missed this much higher profile actions.
Maybe I am a man ahead of my time. However, looking at the former restrictions on human rights in our country starting with slavery, women not being able to vote, blacks being counted as two thirds of a human, segregation, no gays in the military (to list a few) all have gone by the wayside. But now here in 2009 same sex marriages are prohibited. I think we will look back in 10, 20, 30 years and be amazed that gays and lesbians did not have the same rights as every one else. How did this ever happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Are we really free?
Ayanbadejo should be applauded, not condemned (you can follow him on Twitter, where he had some thoughts for Burns). It is men like him who paved the way for changing attitudes about LGBT rights in the NFL, which includes the San Francisco 49ers being the first NFL team to create a public service video for Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" program, a program intended to "inspire and comfort" LGBT adolescents and offer hope for the future.
It's important that NFL players get involved in these efforts. At the high school level, where life is gets most difficult for LGBT youth, it is often the jocks (read: football players) who tease, bully, and beat up the LGBT students.
As noted by Huffington Post, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe also is a supporter of Minnesotans For Equality and also speaks out (on his Twitter feed and on his "Out Of Bounds" blog) with exactly the type of equal rights message that Mr. Burns finds so detestable and believes is limited to Ayanbadejo.
Mr. Burns aside, this whole thing represents progress - and when things change, we get to see some people's true colors. Burns might want to consider changing political parties.