Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo supports gay marriage. He has written about the issue for the Huffington Post and late last year he made a video for the organization Marylanders for Marriage Equality laying out his support. “Join me,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Maryland Delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County) does not agree.
After Ayanbadejo recently offered two tickets to the home opener for a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser, Burns sent a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti saying he found it “inconceivable” that a player would support gay marriage.
“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,” Burns wrote, according to the letter, which was obtained and reported by WBALTV. “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, founder and pastor of Rising Sun First Baptist Church, has been a frequent and high-profile critic of gay marriage, which was legalized in Maryland earlier this year, but faces a referendum vote in November. He was infuriated that President Obama expressed support for gay marriage, saying he would drop his support for Obama’s candidacy.
(My colleague Marc Fisher has written extensively about black ministers, gay marriage and what the issue means in the community.)
Burns called on the Ravens to “inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions.” He said the linebacker should “concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base.”
I reached out to Ravens officials for their reaction to the letter. Team spokesman Patrick Gleason said: “We are aware of the letter. Other than that, we will not have any further comment.”
On Twitter, Ayanbadejo has thanked people this week for supporting his views on gay marriage and other progressive causes. And Tuesday night he tweeted this:
Football is just my job it's not who I am. I am an American before anything. And just like every American I have the right to speak!!!— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) September 5, 2012