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42 Athletes, Sport Figures Support Marriage Equality in Court Brief

42 Athletes, Sport Figures Support Marriage Equality in Court Brief


The sports figures argue that legalizing marriage equality will give a bigger opportunity for professional athletes to feel comfortable coming out.

More than 30 professional athletes and figures in pro sports have sent a friend of the court brief to the Supreme Court supporting marriage equality in a case next week challenging California's Proposition 8.

The brief was spearheaded by Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens and Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings, who were both honored by GLAAD last weekend for their outward support of LGBT rights. Supporters of the brief include openly gay retired athletes, Robbie Rogers, Esera Tuaolo, Wade Davis, Jr., David Kopay, as well as out Minnesota Lynx player Seimone Augustus.

"Athletes are learning that they can no longer say 'I am not a role model'--that they are forced to be a role model and privileged to be a role model, and that their words and actions, no matter how innocently intended, are magnified for both good and bad," the brief reads. "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."

The writers said that as more athletes feel free to express their support of marriage equality and other LGBT rights, more athletes will feel comfortable being out in the locker room. The brief cited Rogers' recent coming out before retiring from professional soccer, when he said "secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently."

The supporters added that acknowledging same-sex marriages will also lead to more young people respecting LGBT and understanding the consequences of bullying and abuse.

"Even a fifth grader knows that words have very serious meaning, and even a fifth grader can see that the proponents of Proposition 8 provide no reasoned, evidence-based rationale for taking away that label and that all-important status," the brief declares. "In America, there truly is no freedom until we're equal.

More athletes and sporting professionals can sign the document, but the full list of initial signers

Chris Kluwe
NFL punter, Minnesota Vikings

Brendon Ayanbadejo
NFL linebacker, 2012 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens
Three-Time Pro Bowler

Scott Fujita
NFL linebacker, including with 2009 Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints

Marie Tillman
President and Co-Founder, Pat Tillman Foundation, a national leader in providing resources and educational scholarship support to veterans

Russell Simmons
Businessman and founder of Def Jam Records and Phat Farm clothing

Rick Welts
President & Chief of Operations, Golden State Warriors

Cheryl Reeve
WNBA Head Coach, Minnesota Lynx
WNBA Champion & Coach of the Year 2011
All-conference point guard, LaSalle

Pokey Chatman
WNBA Head Coach, Chicago Sky

Dominique Foxworth
President, NFL Players Association
Former NFL cornerback

Demaurice Smith
Executive Director, NFL Players Association

Patrick Nero
Athletic Director, George Washington U.

Kenneth Faried
NBA player, Denver Nuggets
All-American at Morehead State University

Robbie Rogers
Soccer Player, formerly with U. of Maryland, U.S. men's national soccer team, and professionally with Columbus Crew (2008 MLS Cup winner) and Leeds United

Rashad Evans
Michigan State wrestler
Former UFC light heavyweight champion

Hudson Taylor
Division I Three-Time All-American wrestler
Columbia University coach
Hunter Hillenmeyer
Former NFL linebacker with Chicago Bears
Founder, OverDog, a service to connect fans to athletes via videogames

Esera Tuaolo
Former NFL defensive tackle and nose tackle
Board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation
Author of "Alone In The Trenches: My Life As A Gay Man In The NFL"

Wade Davis, Jr.
Former NFL Player
Frequent author and speaker on the issue of LGBT individuals in athletics

David Kopay
Former running back with the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, and Green Bay Packers

Adam Podlesh
NFL punter, Chicago Bears

Eric Barton
Former NFL linebacker with Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, and Cleveland Browns

Chris Gocong
NFL linebacker, Cleveland Browns

Alex Mack
NFL Center, Cleveland Browns
Winner of Draddy Trophy, the "academic Heisman"

Steve Gleason
Former NFL Safety, New Orleans Saints
Founder, Team Gleason, raising awareness of ALS

Connor Barwin
NFL linebacker, Philadelphia Eagles, formerly with Houston Texans

Kawika Mitchell
Former NFL linebacker, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, and New Orleans Saints
2007 Super Bowl Champion with Giants

D'Qwell Jackson
NFL Linebacker, Cleveland Browns
Elected team captain

Eric Winston
NFL Offensive Lineman, most recently with Kansas City Chiefs

Scott Shanle
NFL Linebacker, most recently with New Orleans Saints
2009 Super Bowl Champion with Saints

Sean Avery
Former NHL Left Wing with Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers

Joe Briggs
Former Texas Christian U. football player
Public Policy Counsel with NFL Players Association
Professor, Georgetown University

Michelle Marciniak
Former point guard and National Champion (and MVP) with Tennessee Vols, and Seattle Storm of the WNBA
Former Asst. Coach - Univ. of S. Carolina
Co-Founder -- Sheex luxury performance bed sheets

Susan Walvius
Former head women's basketball coach at Virginia Commonwealth U., WVU, and U. of South Carolina
Co-Founder -- Sheex luxury performance bed sheets

Beth Brooke
Global Vice-Chair, Public Policy, Ernst & Young
Former women's basketball player, Purdue U.

James Cantelupe
Director, Barclays (Chicago)
Former NFL defensive back with Chicago ears and All-American defensive back with Army (West Point)

April Ross
Professional beach volleyball player
National Freshman of the Year and All-American at USC
2012 Olympic Silver Medalist, Beach Volleyball

Jennifer Kessy
Professional beach volleyball player
All-American at USC
2012 Olympic Silver Medalist, Beach Volleyball

Seimone Augustus
WNBA guard/forward, Minnesota Lynx
Two-time Olympic gold medalist
Three-time All-America with LSU
2011 WNBA Champion (Finals MVP) and three-time All-Star

Rebekkah Brunson
WNBA Forward, Minnesota Lynx
2011 WNBA All-Star
Founder, 32 Foundation, sponsoring academic and athletic opportunities for youth in the DC area

Kia Vaughn
WNBA center, Washington Mystics

Katura Horton-Perinchief
First female Bermudian to compete in Olympic diving

Jayne Appel
WNBA All-Star center, San Antonio Silver Stars

Tabi Bonney (Tabiabue Bonney)
Togo-born, Washington D.C.-based rapper
Former high school science teacher

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