We never thought the NFL would be the biggest source of support for marriage equality in this country, but a couple of pigskin pros recently created a bit of drama around the issue after receiving some unwanted advice from a certain backwards politician.
The whole imbroglio started when Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo decided to take the most radical action imaginable in our fragile democracy by expressing his opinion about a controversial subject—in public, no less! (We know, it’s just awful.) Ayanbadejo has long let fans know that he supports the rights of gay Americans to marry, and he recently spoke out in favor of an initiative legalizing same-sex marriage that will appear on Maryland ballots this November.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there: Emmett C. Burns Jr., who has somehow served as a Democratic member of the Maryland House of Delegates for four terms, does not much care for Ayanbadejo’s loose lips and uncouth opinions! For some ridiculous reason, the honorable pol thought it fit to write a formal letter to Ravens owner Steve Biscotti insisting that he “take the necessary action…to inhibit such expressions from your employee,” adding that “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.” The letter is an antiquated relic that really must be read to be believed. While we’re all for thinking outside the box, Burns seems to have missed the latest edition of his own party’s platform, which now includes direct support for marriage equality.
The story took another amusing turn on Friday:
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe heard about the dust-up and felt passionately enough to write a biting response to Delegate Burns in which he laid out the many reasons that the delegate’s letter was completely inappropriate while demeaning his “vitriolic hatred and bigotry”, calling him “mindbogglingly stupid”, and haranguing him with such clever phrases as “Holy f**king sh**balls” and “Mindf**king obscenely hypocritical.” Yeah, he got into it.
And someone received the message! Over the weekend, Burns realized that he is, in fact, a jackass and released an official statement confirming what everyone already knew: Thanks to a funny thing called the First Amendment, Ayanbadejo’s opinions–whether stated publicly or privately–are his own damn business, thank you very much.
While we have no doubt that many NFL fans do in fact disagree with Mr. Ayanbadejo, Emmett C. Burns is quite obviously the loser in this culture war PR fail, and we hope that he will think twice before attempting to decry a private citizen’s freedom of speech again. Still, we have to wonder how much good Kluwe’s letter really did, funny as it was: The people who really needed to hear this story are the Baltimore county voters responsible for putting Burns in office.
On a final note, Burns may just be wrong about where NFL fans and players stand on the issue. Ayanbadejo claimed in a subsequent interview that he has witnessed a sea change among his fellow footballers regarding gay marriage, stating that “Whereas 95% of the people were against it (in 2009), it now seems like 95% of the people are for it.”
Given the fact that our nation adopted the First Amendment in 1791, Emmett C. Burns is only about 220 years behind the times. We would wait for him to catch up, but that would be a big waste of time.