Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and 2013 Super Bowl Champion Brendon Ayanbadejo announced at a press conference on April 23 (today) in Fort Lauderdale that he is joining forces with Equality Florida to help bring marriage equality to the state.
Ayanbadejo was joined by Equality Florida’s Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer, who said he was proud to be standing next to Ayanbadejo as he joined Florida’s largest LGBT rights group in the fight for equal rights.
“As a Super Bowl champion, Brendon used the power of the media spotlight to become a national voice on the issue of equality,” Pollitzer said. “Brendon is calling on other professional athletes, celebrities and major public figures here in Florida to speak out and stand with him in calling for an end to anti-gay discrimination in Florida.”
For his part, Ayanbadejo said he was excited to be able to work in Florida after being in Maryland and helping pass marriage equality there.
“I’m here to call on all athletes, celebrities and politicians to join me and Equality Florida,” Ayanbadejo said. “We made a big difference in Maryland and now people are closer to being treated the same as everyone else in the rest of the country.”
A 10-year resident of Fort Lauderdale, Ayanbadejo said it’s time the LGBT community enjoys the same rights him and his family have.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Ayanbadejo said. “But it’s a battle I’m not going to give up on.”
Ayanbadejo also told reporters that he is doing his part to combat homophobia in sports, not just fighting for same-sex marriage.
“I think every team needs to align with an LBGT group just the NHL has done,” Ayanbadejo said. “I’ve aligned myself with Equality Florida, Equality Maryland, Athlete Ally, PFLAG and others so I can reach every demographic as possible.”
The football player went as far as saying his passion for equal rights is more important than his football career, but clarified that if a team from any other state did call he’d go put his best effort on whatever field he had to. Ayanbadejo was recently released by the Ravens after a career year. Speculation arose that he was released because of his outspoken pro-gay stance.
“The fact is the Baltimore Ravens came out in support of me, encouraging me to use my platform,” Ayanbadejo told reporters. “I’ll continue to fight for marriage equality wherever I go. If the Redskins call me, then there won’t be much work to do,” he said laughing. Same-sex marriage is legal in the nation’s capital.
To further advance the cause, Ayanbadejo is teaming up with Equality Florida for several fundraisers, the first taking place on May 27. The “Tackle Equality” dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. at kitchenetta restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
Ayanbadejo said he’s excited for this new chapter in his life, even if it doesn’t include football.
“I’m happy with where I am right now,” Ayanbadejo said. “I have a bigger calling than football. Equality will always be more important than sports.”WANT TO GO:
WHAT:Tackle Equality fundraising dinner with Brendon Ayanbadejo benefiting Equality Florida
WHEN: Monday, May 27, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: kitchenetta, 2850 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL
TICKETS: $100 per person, $150 for VIP cocktail reception
RSVP: www.eqfl.org or call (813) 870-3735 Ryan Dixon