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

the state.

”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