Quick Hit: Praise for the NFL….wait, what?

While I enjoy a good football game now and then, I’ve never been a huge fan of the sport. In particular, I don’t really care for the machismo, misogynistic culture that it tends to perpetuate. But now, there are two NFL athletes who deserve a lot of praise.

Recently, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbedjo spoke out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage. He tweeted his support of the NOH8 campaign and has been photographed displaying his support on the field:

In response to this player’s vocal support of same-sex marriage, Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, urging him to “silence your player.” But instead of trying to silence their fellow athlete, many players have come out in support of Ayanbedjo’s right to free speech and their own support of same-sex marriage. But a letter from Vikings punter Chris Kluwe really takes the cake. Published on Deadspin, Kluwe’s letter hilariously condemns Burns and his narrow-minded views. For your reading pleasure, please enjoy some of the juicier quotes:

As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain.

and

How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis? “Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!” Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)

But my favorite, by far comes at the end:

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 cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

I realize of course that Kluwe is not the first person to ever come out in support of freedom of speech and same-sex marriage. As a straight, white male, who also makes more than most of us could ever dream of, dude is rolling privilege. But I do think it’s worth recognizing that for once, someone who is part of one of the most machismo parts of American culture not only came out and supported the fight for equality. Straight men are so rarely vocal about LGBT rights, and I hope that Kluwe and Ayanbedjo will be an example to more American men that supporting your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Americans who are only different from you because of who they love does NOT affect your masculinity, your sex, or your life.

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