Chris Kluwe files Supreme Court brief opposing Prop 8
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo filed a U.S. Supreme Court brief Thursday supporting same-sex marriage in the landmark Hollingsworth v. Perry case over the implementation of California's Prop 8.
Photo: Joe Bielawa Kluwe at a photo shoot at Macalester College last fall for "No H8," a group opposing Prop 8.
The two NFL players have been on the forefront of the national debate for marriage equality since last summer, when Ayanbadejo spoke out in favor of gay marriage, and a Maryland Congressman attempted to muzzle him with a letter to the Ravens coach. Kluwe came to Ayanbadejo's side with his now-famous "Lustful Cockmonster" letter, and both played key roles in their states' battles to affirm gay marriage rights last November.
In their Amici Curiae brief, Kluwe and Ayanbadejo lay out the influential role professional athletes play in society. Though we've yet to see an active player come out as gay in a major sport, they say we're starting to move in the right direction.
Yet many professional athletes are speaking up--both to clear the way for any teammates who may be gay and closeted, and from an understanding of 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 court's decision, they argue, will play a significant role in how Americans -- including professional athletes -- come down on the gay marriage question.
This Court, incredibly enough, has a central role in that process. Your stance, your legal reasoning, will be used by countless people, including athletes, to justify their actions. People are not wholly unplugged. They pay attention to what is going on in the world, what is going on in politics, and what is going on in the law. Professional athletes are citizens of this country just like everyone else, and just like everyone else, the decisions of the Supreme Court are powerful indicators of acceptable behavior.
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.