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Brendon Ayanbadejo “Thanks” Del. Emmett Burns For Attacking-Marriage Equality Support

The Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo found himself caught in a controversy last week when Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns wrote Ravens’ manager Steven Disciotti, claiming Ayanbadejo should be censured for speaking out in favor of gay marriage.

This morning Ayanbadejo joined out football veteran Wade Davis and former Clinton advisor Richard Socarides on CNN’s Starting Point to discuss the controversy and how it’s playing out. “More than anything I’d have to thank [Emmett] for bringing national recognition to the cause and the effects worldwide,” Ayanbadejo tells guest anchor Zoraida Sambolin. “I’ve received e-mails from all over the world. More than anything he’s brought attention to the cause… He really just made it a national issue.  Now it’s on the front pages of all the papers and all the media.  If he wouldn’t have written his letter I don’t think we would have received this type of attention.”

The linebacker also discussed the shift he’s seen among his teammates: “It’s been amazing. Back in 2009 I wrote an article for The Huffington Post. If you talked to people about this issue, people made fun of me. ‘Oh, Brendon’s coming out.’ I’d hear snickering in the background.  Now I talk to my teammates, and whereas 95% of the people were against it then, now it seems like 95% of the people are for it.”

That’s only two-and-a-half years. The speed of progress is amazing.

Burns, meanwhile, is changing his tune: “Upon reflection he has his First Amendment rights and I have my First Amendment rights,” he told the Baltimore Sun. “Each of us has the right to speak our opinions.  The football player and I have a right to speak our minds.”

Yes, except Ayanbadejo was speaking as an individual and you wrote a letter on official stationery and presented yourself as a representative of the Baltimore County Leglislature. Not a free-speech issue.