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In October 2011, the Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo recorded a video for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, which worked to get same-sex marriage passed in the Old Line State. “I believe we should be doing everything we can to make Maryland families stronger, which is why I support marriage for gay and lesbian couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to each other,” the 36-year-old Chicago native says in the clip.
It’s not the first time Ayanbadejo (right, droool) advocated for marriage equality: In a 2009 Huffington Post opinion piece he eloquently wrote:
“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?”
With all that, it was when Ayanbadejo offered up two Ravens tickets for a marriage-equality fundraiser that Baltimore County Delegate Emmett C Burns Jr. got his panties in a bunch. Burns (below) wrote Ravens’ owner Steven Disciotti an official letter stating that Ayanbadejo should be “ordered to cease and desist” supporting gay marriage.
“I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo, would publicly endorse same-sex marriage, specifically as a Raven Football player. 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.
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.
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.
The NFL acknowledge receiving the letter but had no further comment.
Look, Mr. Burns (snicker), you’re free to disagree with Mr. Ayanbadejo’s opinion. You’re even free to try and pass legislation that will impinge the rights of LGBT people. But the last time we checked every American is free to express themselves. Had Ayanbadejo said he spoke for the entire Ravens organization, perhaps Disciotti would have been within his rights to censure him for misrepresenting himself. But this is a case of a professional athlete (gasp) actually acting like a role model!
Burns—who’s also (surprise!) an ordained minister—is really the one guilty of misrepresenting himself. By using official letterhead, he presented himself as a spokesman for the Baltimore County Legislature. At the very least he should be reprimanded by his peers.
All together now: What a douche!