[Marxism] Players’ Support of Gay Marriage Alters N.F.L. Image
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Sep 9 17:46:20 MDT 2012
NY Times September 8, 2012
Players’ Support of Gay Marriage Alters N.F.L. Image
By ADAM HIMMELSBACH
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been a consistent
supporter of legalizing same-sex marriage. In 2011, he filmed his own
video backing this November’s ballot initiative in Maryland and posted
it on YouTube, and he recently donated Ravens tickets to a Marylanders
for Marriage Equality fund-raiser.
Ayanbadejo’s acts caught the attention of Emmett C. Burns Jr., a
Maryland state delegate who opposes same-sex marriage. On Aug. 29, Burns
sent a letter to Steve Bisciotti, the Ravens’ owner, urging him to
“inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to
cease and desist such injurious actions.”
Burns’s letter elicited an aggressive, searing response from another
N.F.L. player, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who said he could
not sleep after reading the letter Thursday night because he was too
infuriated. So he wrote a profanity-laced response to Burns and
submitted it to Deadspin.com.
“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, adding later: “Why do you hate the fact that other
people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they
may believe in something different than you, or act different than you?
How does gay marriage, in any way, shape or form, affect your life?”
Kluwe’s letter, which has been lauded by many supporters of same-sex
marriage since it was posted Friday, has offered a change in perception.
The N.F.L. has long fought the stigma of having a homophobic culture.
Now, two pro football players have powerfully lent their support for
same-sex marriage, taking a political figure to task in the process.
“It was unexpected to a lot of gay people to have someone from the most
masculine sports league in the country come to the defense of the gay
community and attack this person,” said Cyd Zeigler, a founder of
Outsports.com. “It was unexpected, and it was awesome. To see the clear
passion for this topic, I think, was energizing.”
The support offered by Kluwe and Ayanbadejo is timely, because Minnesota
and Maryland are among four states that will have same-sex marriage
votes this November. In Maryland, Maine and Washington, the legalization
of same-sex marriage will be on the ballot. In Minnesota, there will be
a vote on an antigay marriage constitutional amendment that, if passed,
would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
“These guys are heroes,” Brian Ellner, a leading marriage equality
advocate, said of Kluwe and Ayanbadejo. “This kind of thing has never
happened before. It matters because Brendon and Chris are professional
athletes who are uniquely positioned to help shape opinions and say to
fans, to people who may not be focused on this, that gays are just like
you and me.”
In the past week, Ayanbadejo has been contacted by supporters in Brazil,
Norway, England, Australia, Colombia and Ireland. He has also been
overwhelmed by the support of his Ravens teammates and other N.F.L.
players. “I’d say the majority of players are siding with me, that all
people have a right to live and love and be happy,” Ayanbadejo said in a
telephone interview. “That’s really amazing. I’m very happy to see the
tides changing in the positive.”
Kluwe, whose brother-in-law is gay, said all but “four or five of about
6,000” messages he had received on Twitter in response to his letter
“I think the culture in the N.F.L. has become a lot more tolerant in the
last 10 years or so,” Kluwe said in a telephone interview. “There’s a
younger generation coming in every year or two, and they make me hopeful
of the future.”
There has never been an openly gay active N.F.L. player. In 1975, the
former 49ers and Redskins running back David Kopay said he was gay. Roy
Simmons, a former guard for the Giants and the Redskins, came out in
1992, and the former defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo, who played for five
teams over nine seasons, did so in 2002.
And, Ellner said, support for gay-rights issues is on the rise in the
league. The current and former N.F.L. players Scott Fujita, Michael
Strahan and Nic Harris are among those who have spoken out in support of
same-sex marriage. The Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin, who had
a brother who was gay, appeared on the cover of Out magazine. Zeigler
said he had interviewed 25 current players in the past year, all of whom
said they would welcome a gay teammate.
Perhaps most noteworthy, in August the San Francisco 49ers became the
first N.F.L. team to join the It Gets Better campaign, creating an
anti-bullying video in support of gay, lesbian and transgender youth.
“I think it’s a transformational moment and seismic shift to see so many
folks in the world of sports stepping up and speaking out in support of
equality and fairness and, in this instance, marriage equality,” Ellner
said. “It really demonstrates what we know, and what’s apparent in the
polls, and that the world has changed.”
More information about the Marxism