This is Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. He is an outspoken advocate for marriage equality, appearing in videos for the Human Rights Campaign and Marylanders for Marriage Equality.
While Ayanbadejo is one of several courageous NFL players who have expressed their support loudly and proudly for marriage equality, apparently his stance doesn't sit well with Maryland House of Delegates member Emmett Burns,Jr. So much so, in fact, that Burns sent a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti asking him to stop Ayanbadejo from speaking about marriage equality.
"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.I cannot believe the audacity of a lawmaker, writing to a business owner to stop one of his employees from expressing his opinions publicly. What country do we live in?
"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.," Burns wrote. "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."
Isn't it interesting how some people who talk about how important it is to protect freedom of speech only want to uphold that freedom if people are expressing viewpoints they agree with?
Well, Ayanbadejo isn't cowed by Burns' cowardly, ignorant tactics. In fact, he's happy that Burns is calling more public attention to marriage equality. But he was surprised by Burns' actions, saying:
"For somebody to try to take that away from me I was pretty surprised, from a politician especially. People get fired for saying the things that the delegate said. People lose their jobs for discrimination...I think that whoever voted for him has their right to vote for who they believe represents their values. And if he represents their values, he's the best person for the job. If Obama represents the best values for the country, he deserves the job."And even better, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, another advocate for marriage equality (he's been very outspoken about the battle for marriage quality in Minnesota), wrote a very colorful letter to Burns, which said, in part:
"I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?I'm sure Burns will take the typical conservative tactic of saying his gesture was misinterpreted, but it clearly wasn't. I hope his constituents see his bigotry and ignorance for what it is, as well as his unabashed effort to curb someone's free speech, and bounce this schmuck out of office.
"In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterf*ck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it."
"P.S. I've also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your 'I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing' and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. A**hole."