Ex Ravens LB Ayanbadejo talks equality in South FL
Former Baltimore Ravens reserve linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo
called on professional athletes Tuesday to stand up for marriage
equality because he said it is ”the right thing to do.”
Ayanbadejo took his support for gay marriage to South Florida,
where his career started with Miami in 2003 and where he has lived
for the past decade.
”We are calling on everybody across all spectrums of sports,”
he told a news conference in Fort Lauderdale, where he was joined
by the civil rights organization Equality Florida. One of the
group’s goals is a longshot effort to legalize same-sex marriage in
”I think the star power, especially with athletes, allows us to
hit a demographic. … I think this allows us to have our voice
reach a little bit deeper to people who wouldn’t normally hear our
The 36-year-old Ayanbadejo (eye-uhn-bah-DAY’-joe) said he had a
”bigger calling than football” and this was it.
”I have a chance now to help so many more people than I did
while in football.”
An open proponent of gay marriage, Ayanbadejo spoke in favor of
it in November, before Maryland passed a law allowing it, and also
prior to the Super Bowl. He also recently spoke at a rally on the
steps of the Supreme Court.
He was cut from the Ravens earlier this month and initially
suggested the roster move stemmed from his controversial stance. He
has since backed off that position and said the team has supported
him since he began talking about equality in 2009.
”They said go ahead and use your platform,” he said. ”And not
only did that make the Ravens look good and also we won the Super
Bowl, but also it’s a good example for other teams in the NFL as
The chances of same-sex marriage being legalized in Florida are
slim. In 2008, 62 percent of voters approved a state constitutional
amendment banning it and civil unions. To overturn that amendment,
the Republican-dominated Legislature would have to put a measure on
the ballot or the group would have to collect valid signatures from
more than 680,000 voters. The measure would then have to be
approved by more than 60 percent of the voters.
Earlier this month, he told The Baltimore Sun that up to four
NFL players may soon come out as gay. He told The Associated Press
on Tuesday that a group of athletes were in touch with equality
organizations and ”we are just trying to facilitate them so they
can have a support group amongst each other.”
Ayanbadejo, who said he is not gay, said he is a product of
biracial parents who would not have been able to marry in the ’60s
in several states.
”It’s personal, but I equate it to equal rights, and a lot of
people can’t see it that way,” he said of gay marriage.
The National Football League has not aligned itself with any
lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender organizations.
Follow Suzette Laboy on Twitter: (at)SuzetteLaboy