It’s safe to say that if Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Democratic state legislator from Maryland, didn’t pen a strange letter to the Baltimore Ravens urging the organisation to silence one of their players’ support of gay marriage, Brendon Ayanbadejo’s stance would have never have become an issue. For that, Ayanbadejo is grateful.
“Well, more than anything, I’d have to thank him for bringing national recognition to the cause,” Ayanbadejo said this morning on CNN’s Starting Point. “There was a time where women didn’t have equal rights. African-Americans didn’t have equal rights. Now it’s the LGBT community that doesn’t have equal rights as the rest of the 90 per cent of America. … So I just see it purely from an equality standpoint.”
The controversy Ayanbadejo is referring to started recently, when the Ravens linebacker, who supports same-sex marriage in Maryland, contributed two free tickets to a Marylanders for Marriage Equality Fundraiser. The move drew the ires of Burns, a member of Maryland’s House of Delegates, and prompted him to pen a letter to the Ravens’ organisation.
Here’s an excerpt of the letter, via WBAL:
“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 note “shocked” Ayanbadejo and drew a scathing public response (most notably this NFSW one from former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe), causing Burns to retract his claim.
“Upon reflection, he has his First Amendment rights,” Burns said in a telephone interview with the Baltimore Sun. “And I have my First Amendment rights. … Each of us has the right to speak our opinions. The football player and I have a right to speak our minds.”
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