By BRIAN WITTE, Associated Press
BALTIMORE (AP) —Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (EYE-on-bah-day-joe) huddled Monday night for a fundraiser in support of same-sex marriage in Maryland.
The two gathered for a Monday Night Football-watching party at Mother’s Federal Hill Grille, on the same day opponents of same-sex marriage began airing television ads against the ballot question.
“We just hope to bring change in the name of equality, in the name of fairness,” Ayanbadejo said. “It’s a battle we’ve been fighting ever since this country has been a country, and even before it’s been a country.”
O’Malley, a Democrat, cheered the linebacker for courageously lending his support to the cause. The governor said he believed the words of support from a professional football player would help open up the dialogue even further for people to consider.
“As many people as we can get to step up from as many different walks of life as we can is very positive for this campaign,” O’Malley said.
Ayanbadejo has been speaking out, even as a Maryland lawmaker wrote to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to request he restrain the linebacker from speaking publicly on the issue.
“It’s been overwhelming, but in a great way,” Ayanbadejo said. “I have broad shoulders and I have a lot of passion for this cause, so, you know, something that was meant to silence us and take our voice away has only amplified it.”
Ayanbadejo’s teammate, Matt Birk, has spoken out against same-sex marriage. Ayanbadejo said Monday night the two respect each other’s differences on the matter.
“It hasn’t changed our relationship at all,” Ayanbadejo said. “I think if anything, it’s brought us closer.”
Maryland, Maine and Washington are deciding whether same-sex marriage should be legal in November. Minnesota is voting on a constitutional ban.