When Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo came out as one of the first professional athletes to publicly support marriage equality, many fans and other pros applauded his decision to speak up. But Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Democratic Maryland delegate, had a different opinion. He wrote to the Ravens administration that they should “inhibit such expressions" from employees.
In response, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote his own scathing letter to Burns. Two excerpts:
“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.”
“As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing.”
Ed Schultz couldn’t read the entire strongly-worded letter on television, but in his exclusive interview with Kluwe on Friday’s The Ed Show, he asked the kicker what motivated him to respond to an issue happening practically on the other side of the country.
“It’s an issue of free speech and of civil rights. The message the delegate was sending out was not one that any progressive in this day in age would want to see in our government,” Kluwe said. “It’s just not the right message.”
The Ravens organization issued a statement in support of Ayanbadejo’s right to freedom of speech under the first amendment. Kluwe said that's the right call:
“I think it’s great the Ravens came out and supported him because as athletes we have this very prominent platform where we can affect social change. And I think it behooves all of us to do the right thing."
Schultz asked if he’s involved with the fight for marriage equality in Minnesota, where the issue will be on the ballot in November. Minnesotans will decide whether or not to amend their state constitution to permanently define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Kluwe confirmed that he’s a very active member of Minnesotans for Equality, and will continue fighting to defeat the amendment.
“Gay people would like to get married,” he said. “I think that’s something when we look back 20-25 years from now, and you look at history, which side were you on? Were you on the side that supported this or did you try to take people’s rights away?”