Anti-gay Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D) has backed off his attacks against Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo after creating a media firestorm with his letter condemning the player’s support of marriage equality. Ayanbadejo responded on Friday that he was “surprised” by the letter, but that he wasn’t backing down and had his team’s support. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe stole the media spotlight with his retort to Burns, challenging the delegate, “Why do you hate freedom?” Kluwe also provided a satirically revised version of his letter, stripped of its swearing. Burns is now backing away from his demand that the Ravens silence Ayanbadejo:
BURNS: Upon reflection, he has his First Amendment rights. And I have my First Amendment rights. … Each of us has the right to speak our opinions. The football player and I have a right to speak our minds.
The controversy has sparked a broader dialogue about LGBT inclusion throughout the NFL. Ayanbadejo appeared on CNN this morning with out retired player Wade Davis to talk about how quickly the football community is shifting in its attitudes on same-sex marriage and LGBT equality:
AYANBADEJO: It’s really a changing of the guard in the football community because even 12 months ago when I was doing op-eds for marriage equality, I would still hear certain snickering in the background. I think we’ve changed the tide and come a long way in a short period of time. And I’m really excited that my cohorts and my teammates and my team, the Baltimore Ravens, and the city and everybody is really supporting and gathering behind me in this cause to treat people fairly all in the name of love.
Davis agreed, saying that he believes NFL teams are ready for gay players in the locker room. Watch it: