Brendon Ayanbadejo | Emmett C Burns | Football (American) | Maryland | News

Maryland Lawmaker Asks Baltimore Ravens Owner to Curb Brendon Ayanbadejo's Support for Marriage Equality


Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo (above), an outspoken supporter of marriage equality who has appeared in videos for HRC and Marylanders for Marriage Equality, is being targeted by Maryland House of Delegates member Emmett C. Burns Jr., who has asked Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to stop him from talking about it.

BurnsSays the letter, according to

"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 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 the other.

"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. "I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base.

"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. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing."

Maryland voters face a ballot measure this November that will decide whether the state's marriage equality law, which was passed by the legislature, will take effect.

UPDATE 1: Ayanbadejo responds.

UPDATE II: Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe comes out swinging in defense of Ayanbadejo and gay rights.

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  1. Wow! Emmett C. Burns Jr. wants to blatantly violate Brendan Ayanbadejo's first amendment rights! I kind of hope that the Ravens try to stop him so he can publicly humiliate Mr. Burns by successfully suing the pants off him!

    Posted by: Garst | Sep 6, 2012 9:29:49 PM

  2. Since Mr Burns is an elected official, a representative of the GOVERNMENT, his attempt to stifle Brendon Ayanbadejo's speech is a CLEAR violation of his 1st Amendment rights. Usually when people say their "freedom of speech" has been violated they are wrong, but in this case it's absolutely true.

    I hope the backlash over this is shoved straight down Mr (Montgomery?) Burns' throat.

    Posted by: Caliban | Sep 6, 2012 9:35:50 PM

  3. Well put, Caliban. In addition, the Ravens organization is mourning the loss of Art Modell,the former owner. Great timing, Delegate Burns!

    Posted by: AngelaChanning | Sep 6, 2012 9:38:21 PM

  4. mr. bisciotti should simply quote madge if he replies to mr. burns: "i'm not your b*tch, don't hang your sh*t on me" LOL

    Posted by: Jed | Sep 6, 2012 9:51:07 PM

  5. According to Mr. Burns bio on his state page: "Born in Jackson, Mississippi, August 26, 1940. Jackson State University, B.S., 1962; Virginia Union University, M.Div., 1968; Presbyterian School of Christian Education, M.R.E., 1969; University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D., 1974. Served in U.S. Air Force, 1975-78 (captain). Minister. Chair, Baltimore Safe Schools Committee, 1991-. Chair, Social Action Committee, United Baptist Convention of Maryland. Member, National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Married; three sons."

    Apparently he is only hearing from the folks at his church and not from the rest of his constituents. Time he heard. And having served on the Judiciary Committee, he apparently forgot what the told him about the 1st amendment.

    Posted by: Scott | Sep 6, 2012 9:57:03 PM

  6. Caliban is right. I get annoyed when most people claim their free speech rights are under attack, because the only thing our Constitution guarantees is your right to speak as you'd like without Government interference.

    When a member of Government contacts a business owner (that no doubt has some subsidies and or tax breaks from that same Government) to quell speech, that starts to move into violation of free speech territory. It will probably matter not, as long as this letter goes nowhere. But if something happens, Mr. Burns better hope he handwrote that thing himself on his own personally purchased stationery--or we start getting into serious issues.

    Posted by: breckroy | Sep 6, 2012 10:03:38 PM

  7. okay so who in Baltimore can dig up Biscotti's email address? sounds like rebuttal letters asking him to at a minimum leave the guy alone, at maximum join in in the NOH8 campaign.

    BTW Biscotti's bio says he was raised catholic by his mother after his dad died when he was 8.

    it also says he believes in progressive business practices.

    could be an ally or could be an enemy...

    Posted by: mikenola | Sep 6, 2012 10:16:21 PM

  8. Here is the information for the Maryland General Assembly on Joint Committee on Ethics. Let them know--but do it respectfully and only use facts, if necessary, borrow the arguments above from Caliban or BreckRoy--that you are concerned about the precedent set and image projected by a member of the legislature using his position to quell speech by contacting an employer (and recipient of state incentives and tax breaks)to quell the speech of a private citizen. Let them know that it does not reflect well on Maryland, that a public response by the General Assembly and Committee is both needed and expected, to demonstrate whether or not the General Assembly condones and allows such misuses of position to violate U.S. Constitutional rights:

    If you are so inclined, share (cc:) your letter with these Maryland media and the Governor of Maryland:

    Copy to:

    Make some noise or he'll get away with it!

    Posted by: LLM | Sep 6, 2012 10:18:22 PM

  9. ...and cue Tim Tebow.

    Posted by: dixichuk | Sep 6, 2012 10:22:19 PM

  10. I wonder if this would be considered an ethics violation for abuse of power?

    Posted by: Anita Valium | Sep 6, 2012 10:28:10 PM

  11. I wonder if he cashed his NOM check before or after making this statement.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Sep 6, 2012 10:35:04 PM

  12. He knows of no other player? Why doesn't he just say that he hasn't done the research required to make that determination? Republicans seem to think that if something isn't humping their faces, that it doesn't exist. I'm sure that Cleveland Browns Scott Fujita would argue that he exists.

    Posted by: Michael | Sep 6, 2012 10:43:10 PM

  13. Interestingly the web site cited by Towleroad is - so the official web site of the NFL I assume. The article went on to say:

    "Without even considering what political side of the fence you are on this issue, Burns' letter comes across as a cynical, short-sighted plea for attention. It is truly bizarre to think that he'd ask the Ravens to stifle Ayanbadejo's political activities.

    "This whole story leaves us a little speechless. We'll let Ayanbadejo's perfect response speak for us."

    They then post an image of Mr. Ayanbadejo's tweet, which says "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!!!"

    Kudos to Mr. Ayanbadejo and to the NFL.

    Posted by: Alan | Sep 6, 2012 10:49:53 PM

  14. @LLM - thank you SO much for the email addresses. Not only did I send off a scathing email to the entire list but my husband and our gay friends did too. Know that your work gathering up the email addresses has paid off handsomely.

    I encourage every one of you to do the same. Send off a mass email to the entire email list and denounce the bigoted Maryland delegate.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Sep 6, 2012 11:12:06 PM

  15. Thank you. I think all of us always think "someone else will write" but the truth is only volume matters. Please take the time to write one e-mail and copy and paste the lists above. Let's get this guy--at the very least--pulled aside and told "stop this." And who knows, based on his reaction, he could even be censured by the committee. But these are his friends and colleagues. If they think no one really cares, they'll let it go. So make the whispers a roar and get something done!

    Posted by: LLM | Sep 6, 2012 11:18:02 PM

  16. Regarding, "Since Mr Burns is an elected official, a representative of the GOVERNMENT, his attempt to stifle Brendon Ayanbadejo's speech is a CLEAR violation of his 1st Amendment rights. Usually when people say their "freedom of speech" has been violated they are wrong, but in this case it's absolutely true," its a bit more complicated than that.

    The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The term "no law" generally implies that the government can't threaten or coerce people either, but it does not prevent anyone, including a legislator, from expressing an opinion - as long as all he/she does it to express an opinion. The constitution, unfortunately, does not protect freedom of speech absolutely - it does not prevent an employer from firing an employee for saying something the employer does not like. It does prevent the government from coercing an employer into firing someone for expressing an opinion the government doesn't like.

    While it is possible in some states for private companies to restrict their employees rights to free speech by using the threat of firing them if they say something the company's management doesn't like, other states have stronger laws protecting their citizens' rights to free speech. In California, where I live, there are very broad protections and employers cannot lawfully retaliate against an employee for expressing a political opinion (e.g., in a letter to the editor). To see what protections Mr. Ayanbadejo has, you'd have to check Maryland law. Of course, he might have a supportive employer who would not retaliate against an employee for being an engaged citizen, in which case the legislator's opinion would be ignored.

    Posted by: Bill | Sep 6, 2012 11:25:58 PM

  17. The Washington Post reports "Team spokesman Patrick Gleason said: 'We are aware of the letter. Other than that, we will not have any further comment.'"

    Posted by: Alan | Sep 6, 2012 11:46:16 PM

  18. I hope Brendan's career skyrockets ! He is obviously a great guy who is comfortable in his own skin & isn't threatened by anyone different to himself.

    If only all straight men were this comfortable with themselves the world would be a better place.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Sep 6, 2012 11:49:15 PM

  19. Here's hoping Brendon's fairly manicured eyebrows indicate that he is perhaps willing to take a walk on the wild side. Allow me to volunteer to officially welcome him to the fold...

    Posted by: Rob | Sep 6, 2012 11:57:07 PM

  20. Why do I feel he wouldn't have any problem with a player who came out AGAINST marriage equality but whenever someone high-profile comes out in favor then suddenly the bigots just want everyone to remain "neutral".

    Posted by: e.c. | Sep 7, 2012 1:30:52 AM

  21. STFU Mr. Burns

    Posted by: Jumper | Sep 7, 2012 2:24:23 AM

  22. We need to get local LGBT leaders, LGBT organizations and all LGBT elected officials in the metro DC area involved in this! They need to loudly speak out against this mans actions in wanting to stifle the first amendment rights of a citizen. This is seriously Islamic middle eastern type fundementalism. Where are our LGBT leaders to directly respond to this man? Are they too busy planning dinners and cocktail parties?
    Seriously, this 'politician' needs to hear a mouthful for this horrible injustice he is promoting of attempting to strip someone of his constitutional rights by contacting his employers

    Posted by: Jordan | Sep 7, 2012 2:27:41 AM

  23. I hope everyone who reads this emails and encourage all your other LGBT ally friends to email.

    This is a clear violation and I agree, where are our leaders and why are they not responding to this? This is one of the most unsettling stories I've heard in terms of wanting to silence pro LGBT people.

    Posted by: Markin | Sep 7, 2012 2:29:48 AM

  24. I actually find this frightening and find this elected offcial to be frighteningly dangerous for the gays in his area. If he is going out of his way to silence people from expressing support for gay rights, can you imagine how the gays in his district are treated?

    I'm disappointed that no gay organization or group has yet firmly responded to him.

    Posted by: Greg Cali | Sep 7, 2012 2:31:52 AM


    Posted by: Bob | Sep 7, 2012 3:08:33 AM

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