Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo have been the most outspoken proponents of gay marriage in the NFL, if not in all of sports. This fall, they found themselves on the right side of gay-marriage referendums in their respective states, Minnesota and Maryland, whereupon both Kluwe and Ayanbadejo proudly claimed victory. And now they've put their names behind a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to block the implementation of California's Proposition 8, which was noxious enough that even Theodore Olson and David Boies saw eye to eye on it. This morning, Kluwe and Ayanbadejo filed an amicus curiae brief with the court that supports the cause that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Kluwe's and Ayanbadejo's motion does not include the term "lustful cockmonsters," which is a shame. But what it lacks in colorful language it makes up for in the symbolism of two professional athletes moving beyond the safe precincts of PSAs and speaking directly to the highest court in the land. From the letter:
We are just beginning to see progress with regard to the issue of sexual orientation. No active athlete in any of the major male sports has come out, as professional athletes themselves feel the impact of homophobia, like soccer pro (footballer) Robbie Rogers, who only came out recently as he retired from the sport.
Yet many professional athletes are speaking up—both to clear the way for any teammates who may be gay and closeted, and from an understandingof how even seemingly minor acts by professional athletes can reverberate with the public. Tolerance is becoming the message in locker rooms and from teams that recognize they cannot countenance use of pointless slurs like "faggot," "queer," and "gay." Regardless the intent with which those terms are spoken, they classify a group and particular people as synonymous with the lesser, and professional athletes are beginning to understand that.
The case before the U.S. Supreme Court is formally known as Hollingsworth v. Perry. It reached the Supremes because a federal judge in the Ninth Circuit overturned Proposition 8. That judge's decision was subsequently upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In their brief, Kluwe and Ayanbadejo further maintain that the Supremes can strike a blow against discrimination within the sports world by voting to uphold the Ninth Circuit's ruling:
If the Court reverses the Ninth Circuit, many professional athletes will take their cues from that. And that will cause a ripple effect as even more people follow their role models, their leaders, their heroes. Those against same-sex marriage? They will use it as yet another tool to support their preconceived idea that gay Americans, who pay their taxes, serve in our military, and by every measure of societal participation are superior neighbors and citizens, are instead second class members of society. That they do not deserve the same rights as everyone else. That separate can be equal.
The amici hope that our support for marriage equality here will matter—both with the Court and with people looking for confirmation that it is okay to treat other good people as equals. We know for a certainty that this Court's decision truly will matter, and in a tremendous way for many people's lives.
The entire amicus brief Kluwe and Ayanbadejo filed this morning with the U.S. Supreme Court can be read below. Kluwe tells us he's looking for others in the sports world—athletes, managers, coaches, or teams—to sign on to it. Anyone interested can reach him at Loate@ucla.edu or @ChrisWarcraft on Twitter.