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Posted at 09:08 AM ET, 09/10/2012

Md. delegate backtracks, says Ravens player has right to support gay marriage


Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (51) tackles Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. (Patrick Semansky — Associated Press)

Maryland Delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County) has changed his mind: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has a right to support gay marriage.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun Sunday night, Burns flip-flopped on a letter he wrote to Ravens ownership that blasted the player for his public support of gay marriage. The founder and pastor of Rising Sun First Baptist Church had asked the Ravens to “inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions.”

Now he disagrees with himself.

“Upon reflection, he has his First Amendment rights,” Burns told the 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.”

Burns’s move in support of the U.S. Constitution comes after a flurry of criticism of him and support for Ayanbadejo.

Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe hammered Burns in an open letter posted on the sports news site Deadspin. (Warning: Parts of the letter contain language not exactly safe for work or school.)

“As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom,” Kluwe wrote in part of the letter more easily quoted in a family newspaper.

Many of Ayanbadejo’s teammates defended him as well, as did Ravens management. And Ellen DeGeneres. And Keith Olbermann. And thousands of people on Twitter and Facebook. Even Steelers fans.

On Saturday, Ayanbadejo posted this status update on his Facebook page: “They expected me to get a timeout but all they did was unleash a world wide cry for equality!!!”

And last night he posted a picture of himself with Muhammad Ali, writing: “My inspiration my champion Muhammad Ali is a pioneer of Neil Armstrong proportions respectively. ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ socially.”

By  |  09:08 AM ET, 09/10/2012

 
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