Chicago Sports Legends Ernie Banks and Richard Dent Sign Letter Urging Illinois House to Pass Marriage Equality


As the marriage equality bill awaits consideration by the Illinois House, it's getting support from a couple of Chicago sports legends — Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and Bears Hall of Famer Richard Dent (below), as well as Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and former Bears and current Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Reads the letter:

“As professional athletes, we always played for the love of the game. The competition on the field – whether it was the football field or the baseball diamond – strengthened us and continues to do so. But for that competition to take place, there have to be rules and a code of behavior. Above all, players have to treat each other with fairness and with respect. Doing so doesn’t detract from the competition. It makes it better.

“We come from a variety of backgrounds, and we have played different sports for different teams. But one thing that binds us together is our belief in the importance of fairness and respect – in all aspects of life.

“In Illinois today, gay and lesbian couples who are in lifetime committed relationships do not have the freedom to marry. This violates our sense of fairness and respect. It also goes against the Golden Rule of treating others as you would like to be treated yourself.

“In sports, any time a player is not treated with fairness and respect, the game is diminished. Similarly, treating any group of people as second-class citizens hurts us all, because discrimination is wrong no matter whom the target is.

“For this reason, we believe that the Illinois General Assembly should act now and give same-sex couples the freedom to marry. It’s the right thing for Illinois; it’s the right thing to do, period.”

Ernie Banks, Shortstop, Chicago Cubs (retired)
Richard Dent, Defensive End, Chicago Bears (retired)
Hunter Hillenmeyer, Linebacker, Chicago Bears (retired)
Brendon Ayanbadejo, Linebacker, Baltimore Ravens (formerly with the Chicago Bears)"


  1. Caliban says

    What I know about sports would fit on a post card and still leave room, but it’s awesome that these men stepped up to add their voices for equality.

  2. Jake says

    With all the creative fields gays are involved with, your focus on baseball is not representative — and an irrelevant role model for most –excluding straight acting “real guy” closet cases.

  3. Wil says

    Jake, your comment is a bit obtuse. The point in this instance is to influence lawmakers, not inspire gays. Though you’re wrong about baseball– lots of gay people like baseball. Billy Bean? Nate Silver?

  4. Jake says

    We know how badly baseball players have been abused for their sexuality. The rest of us just have had nothing “All American” to hide behind. And legislators love baseball anyway…

  5. Rick says

    “With all the creative fields gays are involved with, your focus on baseball is not representative — and an irrelevant role model for most –excluding straight acting “real guy” closet cases.”

    Oh, my God. There is so much wrong with this statement that I wouldn’t even know where to begin, so I will just point out that people like Jake are THE biggest obstacle to our acceptance in society.

    More to the point, though–for Ernie Banks and Richard Dent to take this action is monumental. Each is not just a Chicago sports legend, but an iconic figure nationally; both are household names to anyone at all familiar with the history of Major League Baseball and professional football, respectively. It is no exaggeration to say that Ernie Banks is the most beloved Chicago Cub of all time, ergo his nickname “Mr. Cub”

    Their endorsement will command the attention of precisely the demographic groups that are the hardest to convice of the legitimacy of same-sex marriage–“straight” males over the age of 50…..and African-Americans……and is at least 100 times more important than any statement of support from some fag-hag “diva” like Lady Gaga or Madonna.

    I am truly amazed by this development and see it as yet another example of the incredible sea-change we are witnessing in the male culture, day by day.


  6. unruly says

    Jake, there are plenty of gays in non -“creative fields” and plenty of young gays not even interested in “creative fields.” Quit buying the one version of “gay” you see in the media. We’re everywhere.

  7. says

    This Ernie salutes the Hall of Famer Ernie. And I agree with Rick that it’s fantastic. They didn’t have to speak up; they chose to. What being a real ally is all about.

  8. Jake says

    Need no lectures on gay life. At the end of the day how do you explain to the real men how you eat butt?

  9. Rick says

    “Need no lectures on gay life. At the end of the day how do you explain to the real men how you eat butt?”

    By telling them how much better it tastes than pu$$y….and that real men make “conquests” of other men rather than of frail, weak little women.

    How’s that, bro’?

  10. says

    I had the pleasure to take Ernie out for a hot fudge sundae and he wore the Interstellar Propeller Beany I gave him. Ernie was truly the all-time fan favorite. He’s a good guy and never a trouble maker. His homers were hit with bats that had no cork and he was never involved in any steroid or drug scandles. He is quite entertaining off the field. Don’t forget he rode on the Cubs float for 2012 Gay Pride Day and signed hundreds of autographs. I expect nothing less from him,a great Hall of Fame Player.

  11. Jake says

    Rick: You have to watch “Spartacus” Seems like your world. You might try a “Lemonade Stand” that sells ass licks and see how many customers you don’t get. Just sayin’

  12. Caliban says

    Hmmmm. I always thought “straight” guys had better things to do than hang out in the comments sections of gay blogs. But then so many men who are overly “concerned” about gay issues seem to find their way to the gay side of things eventually.

    So often in fact one might start to wonder if there’s a connection….

  13. mike/ says

    “Yay, Cousin Ern!” Bravo to these two Chicago sports greats!

    Ernie Banks was my Uncle Nick’s favorite Cub of all time! He would yell every time “Cousin Ern” came up to bat whether he was watching T.V. or at the game.

    personally, i had met “Cousin Ern” once, but i was speechless. i had heard so much from my uncle i couldn’t think of anything to say, i was in such awe.

  14. james says

    This is nice and my cap is off to Mr. Cub and Richard Dent, and the two other guys who no longer play for the Bears, but … of all the people who have ever worn the uniforms of the Cubs, Bears, Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks, or coached/owned those teams, all they got four guys? And no St. Louis teams to get some attention from downstate?

    Did they ask Ditka? that would have turned some heads! A couple years ago one of the Blackhawks was in the Pride parade in chicago with the stanley cup – this group didn’t think to ask him, either?

    Again, this is nice, but it could have been so much better.

  15. ***** says

    James, why would St. Louis teams or their members weigh in on a law that might be passed by the Illinois legislature? Shouldn’t the St. Louis teams be working to get repeal of the Missouri constitutional ban marriage equality?

  16. Icebloo says

    Unfortunately I think the weak, self-serving Democrats in Illinois are not going to come out and vote with us. The Mayor has admitted already that he hasn’t got enough Democrats to vote with us. I was hoping the days of the spineless Democrats was over but it’s alive and well in Hawaii and Illinois.

    There is NO EXCUSE for the Democrats stabbing us in the back in Hawaii and Illinois where Democrats have majorities AND the majority of people support gay marriage.

  17. james says

    In downstate Illinois, people are more likely to root for the Cardinals rather than the Cubs, that’s why. Illinois legislators have in the past honored St. Louis ballplayers with special mentions, etc. And in some areas of the state, I’ve seen more Detroit Lions or Indianapolis Colts paraphernalia than Bears pennants, etc. Just sayin’