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Brendon Ayanbadejo Talks About Getting Involved in the Prop 8 Case, Says LGBT Equality is 'Hardest Fight'

Ayanbadejo

Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo sat down with USA Today after a panel at EA's LGBT Full Spectrum event in New York City on Tuesday and talked about his participation in the fight for LGBT equality.

Said Ayanbadejo:

"[LGBT equality] is the hardest fight I've ever had to face in my life and I've seen my fair share of adversity growing up in the projects, growing up on welfare, a lot of gang violence. Basically having nothing then coming full circle to where I am today. I've seen a lot of adversity but this is definitely the hardest fight because a lot of people don't want to change."

He was also asked about the amicus brief he is submitting in the Prop 8 case:

Along with several professors, you and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe recently filed a brief with the Supreme Court urging them to reject California's ban on same-sex marriage. Why did you take that step?

Our thinking in this amicus brief is that I'm known to support LGBT rights and Chris Kluwe just as well, so we teamed up with a couple professors and we had an attorney write the brief. We presented it to the SCOTUS. I think it went pretty well. I had no idea how big of an impact it was going to be.

Now we're trying to get more high-profile people to sign on to our brief, which has to be submitted by March 24. We have Dominique Foxworth, the NFLPA president, UFC fighter Rashad Evans and Patrick Nero, the athletic director at George Washington University, where I'm currently getting my MBA.

Read the full interview here.


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

Banks

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: Dent

“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.”

Sincerely,
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)"


NFL Players Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe File SCOTUS Brief Urging Court to Strike Down Prop 8

Honorary-gaysRavens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, two staunch straight allies in the fight for marriage equality, are among those who have filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8.

Say the players in their brief:

“When we advance the idea that some people should be treated differently because of who they are, demeaned in public as lesser beings, not worthy of the same rights and benefits as others despite their actions as good citizens and neighbors, then we deny them equal protection under the laws. America has walked this path before, and courageous people and the Court brought us to the right result. We urge the Court to repeat those actions here.”


Brendon Ayanbadejo: NFL Prospects 'Need to Say That They're Straight' to Get Good Chance at Draft - VIDEO

Ed_ayanbadejo

Baltimore Raven linebaker Brendon Ayanbadejo appeared on The Ed Show last night to comment on recent reports from players (like Nick Kasa, below) that prospective NFL recruits are being asked about their sexual orientation.

KasaAyanbadejo suggested that because of engrained homophobia within the NFL, players unfortunately need to say that they're heterosexual or risk their chances in the draft.

Said Ayanbadejo:

"Teams are really fickle, there’s all kinds of things they want to know. A lot of teams really want to talk to you, get a feel for your personality, see what you’re like. If you give the wrong answers, that could be the difference between going to that team in the first round and slipping to another in the draft...Selfishly, I think players need to say that they’re straight right now. You need to get drafted as high as you can get drafted, get the money while you can … The way things are going right now with the bigotry that still exists and discrimination that still exists within the locker room and sports arena in general, I think you need to say, ‘Hey, I’m straight, I love women’, and keep things so-called normal. Maybe later, once you’ve established yourself and when we break down some of these walls in the NFL, players will be more comfortable to be who they are."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Brendon Ayanbadejo: NFL Prospects 'Need to Say That They're Straight' to Get Good Chance at Draft - VIDEO" »


Brendon Ayanbadejo Pens 'USA Today' Column Calling for End to Homophobia in Pro Sports

Brendon Ayanbadejo pledged to bring his marriage equality advocacy with him to the Super Bowl, and now that he has won it, he's taking that ball and running with it.

He writes, in USA Today: Sb_ayanbadejo

There are many reasons why no gay athlete has come out in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB, most of which are likely to go away with support and acceptance from the straight community. As leaders and even role models for millions of young people across the globe, professional athletes have the ability to fundamentally eliminate prejudice from our sport and live up to the incredible privilege we enjoy.

At its best, sports do not discriminate. If you are young or old, tall or short, male or female, gay or straight, all that really matters is how well you play and contribute to your team.

The NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA should and can be leaders against discrimination. Whether you're a commissioner, an athlete, a coach or a fan, your voice will let every kid out there know that there is a place for him or her in sports. We all can be ourselves and still compete with dignity and at the highest level.

This is our time and our cause. Everything we know as athletes, teammates, spokesmen and vehicles of American pastimes compels us toward the kind of action and camaraderie we saw from Pee Wee Reese nearly 66 years ago. It's as simple as putting our arm around the shoulder of another athlete. It's a gesture; it's a pledge; it's solidarity at its most basic. Our Jackie is coming. We need to pave the way.

(photo via instagram)


Super Bowl Champ Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo Talks Gay Rights, Marriage Equality with Don Lemon: VIDEO

Ayanbadejo

Brendon Ayanbadejo gave an AMAZING interview to Don Lemon yesterday on CNN, fresh off his Super Bowl victory. I've transcribed some of his remarks below.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

"I don't consider it gay rights. I just call it rights. Everyone deserves to be treated equally, said Ayanbadejo, kicking off a discussion about his advocacy for marriage equality, Chris Culliver's remarks, what he thinks about people that call being gay an abomination, and the other straight athlete allies working to bring acceptance of LGBT people to sports."

"Now that I'm a Super Bowl champion now my voice just projects that much further and hopefully it can lead to more change and more positive things for the LGBT community," says Ayanbadejo.

Lemon_ayanbadejoHe adds:

"Everyone's been talking to gay people their whole lives whether we know it or not. We really believe that you're born gay. I've had plenty of conversations with people that are gay and they say they are born gay, no different than me being born this beautiful almond coconut color that I am. People are born gay. So why treat them any differently? It's time that we treat everyone fairly. And not only are we trying to dictate who people should love. We're also trying to dictate who people should be. If a woman wants to wear a man's clothes or a man wants to wear a woman's clothes or you feel like you're a woman on the inside and you're really a man. Who cares? Let's just treat everybody equally. Let's move on. Let's evolve as a culture, as a people."

Chris_culliverWhen asked about Chris Culliver's remarks, Ayanbadejo said that's what he's working to change and that Culliver is young and he'll learn:

"I think more than anything it's going to be a learning experience for him...We have to start talking about this issue. There's groups like Athlete Ally, and myself, Chris Kluwe, Scott Fujita. We're all about inclusiveness in sports and treating everyone equally...It's unfortunate that he made the comments. I know he's sorry for them, and I know he's gonna make it right when he gets the opportunity to do so."

And what of people who say being gay is an abomination?

"I say that this Constitution gives you the right to believe in whatever you want to believe in...Don't use those same rights to disenfranchise others."

Ayanbadejo says he does not know any closeted players but says he's working with other allies so that when a player does decide to come out he'll have help:

"When our Jackie Robinson does come out he's going to have a supporting cast around him."

Do not miss this interview.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Super Bowl Champ Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo Talks Gay Rights, Marriage Equality with Don Lemon: VIDEO" »


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