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Ravens back Ayanbadejo in same-sex flap

Sept. 7, 2012 at 5:49 PM
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BALTIMORE, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- The Baltimore Ravens Friday rejected a call by a Maryland state legislator to take action against linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo for backing same-sex marriage.

State Rep. Emmett C. Burns Jr., D-Baltimore County, complained about Ayanbadejo in a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, after learning the player had donated Ravens tickets to a fundraiser for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

In the letter, which was first reported on by WBAL-TV, Baltimore, Burns said, "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 another.

"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."

Ravens' General Manager Dick Cass issued a statement Friday saying, "We support Brendon's right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment."

Citing the free speech issue, Ayanbadejo, 36, said in the Ravens' locker room Friday he was surprised "something like this would come up, especially from a politician."

He said he was "destroyed" on various Web site chat rooms when he began speaking in support of same-sex marriage several years ago but that has changed.

"Surprisingly, Steelers fans, Patriots fans, Bengals fans, Cowboys fans, people who don't even watch the NFL have all sent me messages saying that, 'I now have a reason to watch football or even cheer for the Ravens because of your support for equality,' so that feels good," Ayanbadejo said.

In his letter to Bisciotti, Burns said he knows of "no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing."

However, in an open letter to Burns, posted on deadspin.com, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe said he has 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."

"Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level," Kluwe wrote.

"I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life."

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