First thing you need to know is Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo made a video for Marylanders For Marriage Equality (above). The National Football League player was expressing his support for same-sex couples to have the right to marry in his state of Maryland. This fall a ballot referendum will affirm or veto a bill already passed by the legislature. The vote will be close, but there is optimism that history will be made.
Dear Mr. Bisciottie:Burns also includes after his signature c. c. Media.
I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Raven Football player. Many of my constituents 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. 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. I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clare of dividing the fan base.
I am requesting that your take the necessary action, as a National Football Franchise Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and disist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.
First things first. Burns admits he knows of no other NFL players that have "done what Mr. Ayambadejo is doing." Burns is not surprisingly, like most anti-gay bigots ignorant and in need of an education.
I would direct Del. Burns' attention to outspoken NFL marriage equality supporters Carolina Panthers linebacker Nic Harris, New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie and Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaac Keys.) Also, Minnesota Vikings' punter Chris Kluwe. (Much more on him later.)
The great irony of course is only about ten minutes ago Christian conservatives were rushing to chow down on Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, not to express their anti-gay animus. Oh no. They were expressing their support for President Dan Cathy's First Amendment right to free speech which they claimed had been threatened.
And in many ways this is a mirror image of the dust-up over Boston and Chicago Mayors Thomas Menino and Rahm Emanuel ill-advised comments. Burns, with his references to his constituents' outrage and his use of official House of Delegates stationary is abusing the power of his public office to silence a private citizen.
Surely these same First Amendment warriors will be quick to rush to Ayanbadejo's defense too? After all, he, like Cathy is just expressing his opinion and Del. Burns is abusing his office by seeking to have him punished for it.
This was not lost on Ayanbadejo. He expressed himself on Twitter:
Football is just my job it's not who I am. I am an American before anything. And just like every American I have the right to speak!!!— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) September 5, 2012
Ayanbadejo responded in USA Today by thanking the delegate for drawing national attention to the topic. But on the topic of his free speech rights, Ayanbadejo added,
"I was surprised. It's what our country was founded on. For somebody to try to take that away from me I was pretty surprised, from a politician especially."This is where it gets really interesting. Word of this dust-up reached another National Football League marriage equality supporter, Minnesota Vikings Punter Chris Kluwes. Today he tweeted out an open letter to Del. Burns:
And what a lettter it is.
I've noticed many times it's straight allies that feel less inclination than LGBT activists to be nice. Which makes sense. Most gays grow up with an instinctive understanding they're inherently disliked and have a natural tendency to work against that.
Well, Kluwes clearly did not pen his missive with the goal of winning over Del. Burns' heart and mind. Mr. Kluwes, though a now punter, may be better tasked to a more aggressvie position in the offensive line-up.
"They Won’t Magically Turn You Into A Lustful Cockmonster"
Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,And he goes on for 800 words. (Emphasis mine.)
I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland's state government. 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. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):
He chastises Burns poor understanding of the First Amendment:
By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should "inhibit such expressions from your employees," more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain.Reminding Burns of Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson, Kluwes asks: "you're going to say that political views have 'no place in a sport'?"
And the source of Deadspin's internet winning headline:
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?Kluwes signs off with:
P.S. I've also 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. Asshole.Wow.
Your ball Del. Burns.
And I'm sure Mike Huckabee, Bryan Brown, Maggie Gallagher and all the other stalwart defenders of the First Amendment will be piping in any minute to defend the assault Del. Burns made on Ayanbadejo's free speech rights. Right?
Update: Ayanbadejo will suffer no sanctions, the Raven's website reports:
After speaking with Bisciotti, President Dick Cass told BaltimoreRavens.com that they will write Burns a response.
“We support Brendon’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment,” Cass said.
Ayanbadejo was nervous that his actions could impact the Ravens’ fan base. That was until Cass stopped him in the hallway outside the team’s dining room Friday afternoon. Ayanbadejo recounted their exchange to a group of reporters immediately afterwards.
“[He said] we’re in support of you and it’s good that you’re able to voice your opinion and say how you feel,” Ayanbadejo said. “Dick personally told me, ‘We’re not an organization that discriminates.’”
Ayanbadejo said the two talked about the changing sentiment about same-sex marriage, both nationally and within locker rooms. The conversation left Ayanbadejo ecstatic.
“It really made my day that Dick Cass went out of his way to talk to me today and support me, and that it came down from Mr. Bisciotti,” he said. “The Ravens organization is everything that I ever thought it was. It kind of made me feel even deeper rooted in this organization.”
Kluwes is engaged in the battle to defeat the Amendment to Minnesota's state constitution a ban on same sex unions. Their campaign website is here.