Ravens linebacker pushes for same-sex marriage
Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo is putting his considerable heft behind passing a gay marriage bill in Maryland and will star in a new video that will be released today pushing for the measure.
In the video Ayanbadejo looks directly into the camera and says: "I believe we should be doing everything that we can to make Maryland families stronger which is why I support marriage for gay and lesbian couples who want to make a life time commitment to each other."
"People from all walks of life including gay and lesbian couples want their children to be in stable homes and protected by the law. Join me and the majority of Marylanders who support marriage equality."
A new coalition, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, plans a state-wide media campaign to build support for the measure in advance of the January legislative session. The first video of what they said will be a series was released earlier this month and featured Gov. Martin O'Malley.
Opponents of the measure also have support from a NFL player. Shortly after Ayanbadejo initially supported the Maryland bill last spring, wide-receiver Derrick Mason (who is no longer a Raven), said in a radio interview that he believes marriage is should be between a man and a woman.
A gay nuptials law nearly passed last spring in Maryland, and O'Malley over the summer pledged to make it one of his priorities in the upcoming legislative session. Should the bill pass next session it is likely to be petitioned to referendum and would appear on the 2012 ballot.
Ayanbadejo, a three time Pro-Bowl player, has been outspoken in support of gay marriage for the past few years. He cut a video supporting the legislation last session, though it was not heavily promoted in the state. In a 2009 Baltimore Sun article my colleague Kevin Van Valkenburg profiled Ayanbadejo and quoted from a column the player penned in the Huffington Post that year:
"If Britney Spears can party it up in Vegas with one of her boys and go get married on a whim and annul her marriage the next day, why can't a loving same-sex couple tie the knot?" Ayanbadejo wrote. "How could our society grant more rights to a heterosexual, one-night-stand wedding in Vegas than a gay couple that has been together for 3, 5, 10 years of true love?"
In his piece, Van Valkenburg wrote: "It's an experience to stand next to the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Ayanbadejo and carry on a conversation. Physically, he's an intimidating presence, with muscles so sharply defined, you can imagine him doing push-ups and crunches in his sleep. There isn't another player on the Ravens, from Ray Lewis on down, who takes fitness and nutrition as seriously as Ayanbadejo."
"But he's also one of the worldliest Ravens, a definition that fits him both figuratively and literally. Although Ayanbadejo was born in Chicago in 1976, he and his family moved to Lagos, Nigeria, when he was 1 and lived there for three years before returning to the United States."