September 12, 2012

IconAmerican Football Players Unite in Support of Marriage Equality (and prove that the pen is still mightier than the sword)

American football fans, it’s time to celebrate.  Not only is the season upon us, but we now have even more reason to support America’s favorite past-time (Or is that baseball?  Can it be both?).  The face of the NFL is changing, with the help of a handful of padded-butt, spandex wearing trailblazers intent upon ridding the NFL of its somewhat homophobic image.

This November, 2012, the issue of marriage equality will be on the ballots in four different states.  One of those states, Maryland, is home to the football team the Baltimore Ravens.  For over a year, Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been vocal about his support of the gay marriage initiative on the upcoming Maryland ballot.  High five, Brendon Ayanbadejo!  Unfortunately, Maryland politician Emmet C. Burns Jr., took it upon himself to try and slap a fat tape of silence over the linebacker’s mouth, by way of a letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens.  The letter is almost laughable at its utter disregard for freedom of speech and its insinuation that Mr. Burns would have any sort of control over one player’s views.  He orders the owner to “take the necessary action” to “inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions.”

Once you realize that he is, in fact, serious, that Mr. Burns does, in fact, believe that it was “injurious” of Mr. Ayanbadejo to donate game tickets to a “Maryland for Marriage Equality” fundraiser, it becomes less laughable and more incendiary.  Unsurprisingly, I am not the only one incensed by this politician flipping the bird at our country’s longstanding beliefs and laws of “freedom of speech”.

Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe took the anger he felt at such an appalling act by a government official and turned it into a thoughtful, thought-provoking letter, responding to the one Emmet C. Burns Jr. wrote to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.  Not only did Chris Kluwe take the time to transcribe such an eloquent letter, but he also took it upon himself to publish this letter online, making it available to the public for all to read and share.

Please, do yourself a favor and read the letter he posted on deadspin.com.  If you find yourself offended by Kluwe’s flowery choice of words (my favorite being “If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis?  “Oh sh*t. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot d*ng action!”) remind yourself what is actually the most offensive part of this whole story.  Read through the profanity (or laugh through the profanity, depending on your sense of humour) and see the valid points Mr. Kluwe covers in his letter.

Point one is the obvious first choice, the ignorance of the Constitution’s First Amendment and the hypocrisy behind a man who is both a government employee and a minister and therefore executes his right to freedom of speech on a regular basis.  Point Two, complete with my second favorite expletive “holy f*cking sh*tballs”, tears apart Burns’ argument that sports and politics are not relative to one another.  As Kluwe points out, the NFL was riddled with segregation issues in the past that took political action and outspoken sports members to overcome.

Point three and the concluding paragraphs are a funny, yet poignant directive addressing Mr. Burns seeming opposition to freedom and speculating about what fears he must experience regarding marriage equality.  He writes, “I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life.  They won’t come into your house and steal your children.  They won’t magically turn you into a lustful c*ckmonster.”  Again, this made me laugh, but it is frightening how many people actually clutch onto completely unrealistic fears over something that will not change anything in their own lives, but rather better the lives of citizens around them.

Kudos to Brendon Ayanbadejo for refusing to back down, and kudos to Chris Kluwe for slamming the politician with poetry, humour, and a vicious intelligence.  We have come a long way and it appears that a corner really has been turned in the National Football League of America.

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Maria Burnham

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