US: NFL players Kluwe and Ayanbadejo file Supreme Court brief in support of equal marriage

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Two top NFL players, both equal rights advocates, have filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, urging it to strike down Proposition 8, the Californian ban on equal marriage.

Brendon Ayanbadejo, of the Baltimore Ravens, the team which won this year’s Super Bowl, and Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings, penned the brief, and filed it late on Thursday. It urged the Supreme Court to act against legislation preventing equal marriage.

In the brief, joining the Obama administration, which also filed a brief late on Thursday, the pair argued that the athletes have a great deal of influence, and that they wished to use that influence to express their support for gay people to legally be allowed equal marriage rights.

They wrote: “When we advance the idea that some people should be treated differently because of who they are… demeaned in public as lesser beings, not worthy of the same rights and benefits as others despite their actions as good citizens and neighbors {sic}, then we deny them equal protection under the laws. America has walked this path before, and courageous people and the Court brought us to the right result. We urge the Court to repeat those actions here.”

The pair have both been vocal supporters of equal rights, but ESPN reported that this move signals that they will work together on the issue moving forward.

“We basically bounce ideas off of each other,” Ayanbadejo said. “We will be spending some good time together this offseason, not only in cyber space but also in person.”

Brendon Ayanbadejo was last year involved in a controversy because he was criticised by a state delegate for speaking in favour of equal marriage.

Mr Kluwe, a punter for the Minnsota Vikings, made the headlines in September when he defended Ayanbadejo against a call from Delegate Emmett C Burns Jr, to reprimand Ayanbadejo, who recorded a video for a gay rights advocacy group In October 2011.

Ayanbadejo previously said he hoped that homophobic comments by fellow NFL player, Chris Culliver would open a positive dialogue about gay players in the NFL, and in November, upon waking to find that Maryland voters had chosen to legalise equal marriage in the state, Ayanbadejo said it was “like Christmas”.

Ayanbadejo recently expressed regret at the fact that gay, prospective NFL players may need to lie about their sexuality, when asked, in order to get drafted as professional players.

Chris Kluwe spoke about the possible marketing and endorsement opportunities, surrounding the first openly gay NFL player, whoever that may be.

Kluwe previously responded to Matt Birk, a fellow NFL player who recorded a video opposing the amendment for equal marriage. In his response, Kluwe said: “If you want us to understand why same-sex marriage is bad for kids, you need to provide some sort of substantial evidence”.

He later quit his blog at an online daily newspaper, due to an editorial published by the site’s editors which, he said, expressed an anti-equal marriage stance going against the political neutrality the site claimed to have.

Kluwe, is to release a book containing “uncensored personal essays” on a range of topics, after passionately defending equal marriage rights for gay people. Little Brown publishing has said the book will be released on 25 June.

Earlier this week, Clint Eastwood joined over 100 top Republicans who signed up to argue that the Supreme Court should overturn Proposition 8.