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Super Bowl Champ Brendon Ayanbadejo for Marriage Equality: VIDEO

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Taking advantage of the momentum from the Super Bowl, the Respect for Marriage Coalition has retooled an interview with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo that he did last fall for the Marylanders for Marriage campaign into a new video that's getting renewed attention because of the Ravens win.

As always, Ayanbadejo is articulate and his words powerful.

Congrats on your Super Bowl win!

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Super Bowl Champ Brendon Ayanbadejo for Marriage Equality: VIDEO" »


Marriage Equality Advocate Brendon Ayanbadejo Responds to Chris Culliver's Anti-Gay Remarks

Here's Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo's reaction to Chris Culliver's anti-gay remarks:

B_ayanbadejo"You know, I think that in San Francisco, and being from the Bay Area myself, that's something that we really try to preach -- love and acceptance of everybody. And so I couldn't really even say anything negative to the young man. It's just one of those things where you have to live and you have to learn. And I said earlier on (a TV broadcast) -- in the words of Martin Luther King, you can't fight hate with hate. You have to fight hate with love. We've all made our mistakes, we've all been there and done certain things, and we've hurt people regardless if we meant to do it or not. But more than anything it's an opportunity to have a learning experience.

"I've preached since day one to my teammates that there's certain words you can't say. And when they're around me they know -- if B.A.'s around, you can't say 'gay' in a derogatory manner, you can't say the three-letter 'f' word. And I tell them, I go, you can't say those things. And if people hear you say those things, regardless if you mean them or not, they're going to fry you. And if it's in a public arena your whole reputation's going to be roasted for it.

So we've kind of seen it happen this time. So we just have to all learn from what happened, from this mistake. He apologized and hopefully he'll learn. And he's in the Bay Area, and it's really important there, it's pertinent there. So I think he's going to learn and he's going to grow to be a better person for it."

The AP adds to those remarks:

"I'd say 50 percent of the people (in the NFL) think like Culliver. I'd say 25 percent of the people think like me. And 25 percent of the people are religious. They don't necessarily agree with all the things I agree with, but they're accepting," Ayanbadejo said. "So it's a fight. It's an uphill battle."

And USA Today reports:

Ayanbadejo, who got into a public battle with a Maryland delegate over gay marriage in September, welcomed the discussion — to a point. He balked only when asked for his theory on why pro football locker rooms seem to be behind the rest of society in accepting gay lifestyles.

"Honestly, I have my opinions why but I really can't voice them now," he said. "I think it's something we'll have to talk about after the Super Bowl."

Because they're too controversial?

"Yeah, I mean, it's tough to be sitting here talking about equality, and naturally that's the most important thing but right here and now I'm focusing on the Super Bowl so it's kind of tough to be talking about equality and what not when we're here for a Super Bowl," Ayanbadejo said. "With this such a huge platform and being such a big game, I have to narrow my scopes and have real fine vision and know the importance of why I am here and I'm here because of the Super Bowl.

"Of course, if I can be a voice for equality, especially after this game, then I welcome everybody to sit down and get together after the game and we'll do a lot more for equality than just talking about it now at a sporting event."

Finallly, the SacBee adds:

Asked if he believes Culliver's comments represent a common feeling among NFL players, Ayanbadejo said: "Yeah, it's pretty normal. It's pretty normal behavior."


Ravens Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo Plans to Carry Marriage Equality Advocacy to Super Bowl

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NYT columnist Frank Bruni reports on an email sent by Super Bowl-bound Baltimore Raven and marriage equality advocate Brendon Ayanbadejo in the early morning hours after his team won the AFC Championship:

XlviiHe tapped out an email to Brian Ellner, a leading marriage-equality advocate with whom he had worked before, and Michael Skolnik, the political director for Russell Simmons, a hip-hop mogul who has become involved in many issues, including same-sex marriage.

Ayanbadejo wrote: “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti- bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?” The time stamp on the email was 3:40:35 A.M.

Ayanbadejo, who says his ultimate goal is to bring his message to Ellen DeGeneres' show with a Super Bowl ring and "bust a move", is currently figuring out the best way to make that message resonate in the biggest arena in pro football:

Throughout his week, Ayanbadejo has been—and will be—talking to gay-rights advocates about how to seize this moment. For example, he’s been swapping emails with Hudson Taylor, the founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, a group dedicated to ridding sports at all levels—high school, college, professional—of homophobia.

“He’s so excited and ready to take a stand in whatever way he can,” said Taylor. “He is leveraging the biggest sports stage in the world.”

He’s also in conversations with Ellner and Skolnik specifically about marriage equality. Said Ellner: “He understands that as a straight biracial player in the Super Bowl, he can have a huge impact on the future of this issue.”

And we'll be rooting for him.


Brendon Ayanbadejo: Only 3% Of NFL Is Gay

BrendonBrendon Ayanbadejo, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker who became one of the sport's most vocal supporters of marriage equality this year, was asked by Fox Sport's Alex Marvez whether when he thinks an NFL player will come out while still playing the field.

Basically, Ayanbadejo's not sure, mostly because he thinks there's a far lower percentage of gay people among players than among the general population.

Regardless of when this hypothetical player comes out, though, Ayanbadejo's convinced he'll be able to make some serious cash selling his story.

The transcript, via Outsports:

Marvez: ...How long do you think it will be until the first active gay NFL player emerges?

Ayanbadejo: That's a good question. I don't know. I have a whole theory that some people would believe is kind of counterintuitive to a lot of stuff that I preach about LGBT rights. In no way am I trying to offend the LGBT community. But my theory after playing in the NFL for so long is that there are certain traits NFL players have and don’t have.

Now, if there's a negative thing about NFL players, we tend to be angrier (than non-players). We clearly have higher testosterone because you have to genetically to play this game. With that comes bipolar (disorder), split personality and certain negative things. That’s not everybody, but I think the rate is higher than the general population.

I believe that there are not as many gay people in the NFL as in the regular population. This is a discussion I’ve been having on Twitter for quite some time now. Some people say, "You're stupid." But even though there is not yet a proven gay gene, I believe people are born gay. It is a natural phenomenon.

There are definitely gay players in the NFL. I'm not saying that there are not. Some people say the gay guys in the NFL aren't coming out because they're scared and worried about what’s going to happen to their careers. But I think the first person who comes out and says they are gay, everyone is going to write a book and do stories about them. They're going to make a lot more money by saying they're gay than by not saying they’re gay. But are we ready to hear that? Is that person going to be comfortable to do that? I don’t think they are right now because of society and the way things are.

Eventually, I think there will be someone. But the number (of gay players) is so minute. If they say the regular population is 7 to 9 percent (LGBT), in the NFL it might be 3 percent. I could be completely wrong, but I've played for so long and so many others have. When you hear players coming out that are retired, they are few and far between. Why wouldn’t we hear about more players if it's the same percentage like in the regular population?

What I'm saying is controversial. There is no proof. It's just my theory.


150 Game Changing Wins that Made 2012 the Gayest Year Ever

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A remarkably short four decades ago, the Stonewall Revolt of 1969 opened the flood gates for LGBT rights. The closet, so sturdy for so long, started being swept away in a rush of pride. Still, LGBT Americans lived in a culture of "tolerance," a popular euphemism for enduring.

There have been momentous years since then — both Barney Frank's 1987 coming out and the 2003 Supreme Court ruling overturning anti-sodomy laws come to mind — but when we look back in twenty years time or ten or even five, 2012 will be remembered as quantum leap for LGBT rights in the United States of America. It's the year that equality went from being a far-off dream to becoming an inevitable, immutable and irreversible reality. Even Newt Gingrich agrees!

This was the year of equality, the year the American dream came into sharper focus and the nation crossed from begrudgingly tolerating gays, and sometimes even acknowledging their relationships, to demanding our inclusion in the greater American family. Coming out is for the large part no longer a big deal, which is a big deal in and of itself.

There have never been as many out and proud elected officials; never before has Wall Street embraced us with such force; never before have so many conservatives admitted they need to shift gears on marriage equality and embrace change. This was a year of "never before" and "never again."

AFTER THE JUMP, 150 reasons why 2012 was a year of permanence for LGBT Americans, a year that the next wave of rights began its swoop across the purple mountain majesty and above the fruited plain.

And for more of our 2012 Year in Review, be sure to read "I'm Gay: 50 Most Powerful Comings Outs of 2012" HERE.

Continue reading "150 Game Changing Wins that Made 2012 the Gayest Year Ever" »


NFL Commish Roger Goodell Protected Gay Brother From Bullies

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If there was one thing future NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not tolerate while growing up, it was when bullies picked on his then-closeted brother, Michael.

In a lengthy profile published in the latest TIME magazine, Goodell and Michael discuss those days, and the lengths Goodell went to keep his polar opposite sibling safe, and how it saved Michael's life:

When Michael Goodell, who came out after college, hears about gay kids committing suicide because of bullying, he reflects on how he could have been one of them. “I was the type who would have been beat up a lot,” says Michael.

"It would have been humiliating. What would that have meant if I did survive it. Would I have done drugs? There are all sorts of things you can turn to because of self-hatred and loathing. But none of that was even a possibility, because I had this support around me. So, yeah, Roger is very much a hero figure for me.”

During an with an interview with the commissioner, I read Michael’s words to him. Roger Goodell teared up. "Ha," he says, sniffling, not able to say much else. "That’s the first time I heard that. I didn’t know it had much impact on him."

Goodell has been pretty quiet about his own politics, but when right-wingers went after Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo for backing marriage equality in Maryland, Goodell defended the player. "I think in this day and age, people are going to speak up about what they think is important. They speak as individuals and that’s an important part of democracy," he said. 


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