Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo during a 2011 game against the New York Jets. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Fort Lauderdale, Florida -- Former Baltimore Ravens reserve linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo called
on professional athletes Tuesday to stand up for marriage equality
because he said it is "the right thing to do."
took his support for gay marriage to South Florida, where his career
started with Miami in 2003 and where he has lived for the past decade.
are calling on everybody across all spectrums of sports," he told a
news conference in Fort Lauderdale, where he was joined by the civil
rights organization Equality Florida.
think the star power, especially with athletes, allows us to hit a
demographic. ... I think this allows us to have our voice reach a little
bit deeper to people who wouldn't normally hear our message."
The 36-year-old Ayanbadejo said he had a "bigger calling than football" and this was it.
"I have a chance now to help so many more people than I did while in football."
open proponent of gay marriage, Ayanbadejo spoke in favor of it in
November, before Maryland passed a law allowing it, and also prior to
the Super Bowl. He also recently spoke at a rally on the steps of the
was cut from the Ravens earlier this month and initially suggested the
roster move stemmed from his controversial stance. He has since backed
off that position and said the team has supported him.
said go ahead and use your platform," he said. "And not only did that
make the Ravens look good and also we won the Super Bowl, but also it's a
good example for other teams in the NFL as well."
Earlier this month, he told The (Baltimore) Sun that up to four NFL players may soon come out as gay.
told the Associated Press on Tuesday that a group of athletes were in
touch with equality organizations and "we are just trying to facilitate
them so they can have a support group amongst each other."
who said he is not gay, said he is a product of biracial parents who
would not have been able to marry in the 1960s in several states.
"It's personal, but I equate it to equal rights, and a lot of people can't see it that way," he said of gay marriage.
The National Football League has not aligned itself with any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender organizations.