New York Rangers left wing Sean Avery joins the video series for marriage equality in New York from the Human Rights Campaign, becoming the first professional athlete to support the effort in the state.
In the 30-second spot released over the weekend, Avery, already known for his supportive stance toward athletes coming out, says, "I treat everyone the way I expect to be treated, and that applies to marriage."
The message from the NHL star arrives as momentum for marriage equality intensifies in New York, where a marriage equality bill failed in the state senate in 2009. Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to tour the state in the coming days to press his case for another vote by June. Meanwhile, polling shows popular support at a record 58% and leading advocacy groups, including HRC, have joined forces in the new coalition, New Yorkers United for Marriage, which also is running a statewide TV advertising campaign. On Monday, some 1,200 advocates are expected to visit Albany, the state capital, to lobby lawmakers on the issue.
"Sean Avery knows what it means to be a leader - on and off the ice," said Brian Ellner, senior strategist for HRC in New York. "As the first professional athlete in the state to publicly support marriage equality, his voice is sure to resonate. Like a majority of New Yorkers, he believes in the freedom of all loving, committed couples to marry."
The New York Times reports that Avery joins a "short list" of active athletes in support of marriage equality, which includes Brendon Ayanbadejo, a Baltimore Ravens linebacker who recorded a video statement for Equality Maryland this year. Avery, who brings a reputation for antagonism on the ice, said he suspects the antigay slurs common in the game may be used against him more often now because of his outspoken support, but he can handle the name-calling.
The New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, which has appeared online and on the city's Taxi TV, features prominent New Yorkers to move viewers to lobby their state lawmakers. Other videos in the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign so far have included Barbara Bush, daughter of former president George W. Bush; New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg; former mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins; former police commissioner Bill Bratton and Rikki Klieman; Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; Joan Rivers; Whoopi Goldberg; Lucy Liu; Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon; Russell Simmons; Bill T. Jones; Julianne Moore; Ethan and Ryan Hawke; Christopher Meloni; Moby; Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell; Fran Drescher; Mark and Sunrise Ruffalo; chefs Mario Batali, David Chang, and Tom Colicchio; Julianna Margulies and husband Keith Lieberthal; Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe; Kenneth Cole; John Slattery; and Daphne Rubin-Vega.