Two NFL players — Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo (pictured) and Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe — were behind the amicus brief filed with the US Supreme Court urging the justices to overturn California’s 2008 voter-approved ballot measure which restricted marriage to one man and one woman.
Both athletes have been strong advocates of gay rights, particularly gay marriage.
“Sports figures receive a celebrity status that influences a large majority of the American population,” the brief states.
“For far too long, professional sports have been a bastion of bigotry, intolerance, and small-minded prejudice toward sexual orientation, just as they had been to racial differences decades earlier. That is finally changing, and changing drastically.
“This Court should correct Proposition 8’s action to remove marriage rights from same-sex couples because, as the district court and the Ninth Circuit majority so carefully explained, the advocates of Proposition 8 provided no evidence-based rationale – as opposed to one based on fear and prejudice – for treating LBGTQ citizens differently with respect to marriage.”
Openly gay former professional athletes Robbie Rogers, Esera Tuaolo, Wade Davis, Jr. and David Kopay also added their name to the brief, along with WNBA basketball player Seimone Augustus, who came out as gay in 2011.
NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth also joined the growing chorus of sports professionals in advocating for marriage equality, writing about his support for the cause in an editorial earlier this week.
“Athletes have long been among the most prominent agents for social change… That is why, as president of the NFL Players Association, I’m standing with the majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry,” Foxworth wrote in his USAToday column.
“This simple endorsement of equality might surprise some people. After all, recent headlines around the NFL have focused on a preoccupation with draft eligible players’ sexual orientation. And, of course, we have yet to count an openly gay player among our teammates.
“Nonetheless, many NFL players see what everyone else in this country sees — the growing support for marriage equality.
“We believe that denying people basic rights and protections simply because of who they are and whom they love is wrong. It’s an unconstitutional breach of our right to equal protection under the law.”
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry this week and is expected to rule on both the Prop 8 ban and the US government’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, in June.
See Ayanbadejo and Kluwe speaking about sports and gay rights at last week’s Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards below: