After a years-long fight, same-sex marriage was finally legalised in Maryland this year. However, opponents of the new law managed to get enough signatures to put it to a referendum on this November's election ballot: a final chance for them to strike down the law before it is due to take effect on 1 January 2013. The campaign is heating up on both sides.
Brendon Ayanbadejo, a football player for the Baltimore Ravens, has been vocal in his support for marriage equality, even offering a pair of game tickets as a fundraising incentive. This has provoked the ire of one Emmett C. Burns Jr., a local politician and church leader who called on the team "to inhibit such expressions from your employee." (Single-page pdf of letter here.)
The team, of course, is rallying behind Ayanbadejo. But the real cherry on the sundae is an open letter written to Burns by another NFL player, Chris Kluwe. With Olympian eloquence, Kluwe writes:
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population [...] You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails.
That's just one abridged paragraph from a truly glorious panegyric, the full text of which is available here. I heartily advise clicking, though the text does contain language that may offend any prudes reading over your shoulder at the workplace.
I take away from this incident a certain optimism: it seems NFL football culture has come a long way since I was a kid. Polls show that a narrow majority of Marylanders support same-sex marriage in principle, which makes this primarily a fight for turnout. I very much hope that the state on my doorstep will show itself an enlightened place come November.