NFL players tackle gay marriage, free speech

Laura Byrne Contributor
Font Size:

NFL players are butting heads off the football field over gay marriage, but they do agree on one thing: freedom of speech.

Ravens center Matt Birk is the latest NFL player to join the gay marriage discussion in an opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Birk opposes gay marriage but defended free speech.

“All people should be afforded their inalienable American freedoms. There is no opposition between providing basic human rights to everyone and preserving marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman,” Birk wrote.

Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo sparked the gay marriage conversation among NFL players when he publicly support gay marriage in 2009. Ayanbadejo published a blog post called “Same sex marriages: What’s the big deal?” in the Huffington Post.

“If Britney Spears can party it up in Vegas with one of her boys and go get married on a whim and annul her marriage the next day, why can’t a loving same sex couple tie the knot?” Ayanbadejo wrote in his blog.

Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns condemned Ayanbadejo’s stance on gay marriage and pleaded in a letter to Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti to censor any future comments: “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 wrote in the letter.

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe responded to Burns with an uncensored letter advocating free speech and backing Ayanbadejo’s pro gay marriage platform.

“Are you worried that if gay marriage became legal, all of a sudden you’d start thinking about penis?” Kluwe asked Burns in his letter.

“As recently as 1962,” Kluwe wrote to the black delegate, “the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you’re going to say that political views have ‘no place in a sport’?”

Follow Laura on Twitter