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Post submitted by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

Brendon Ayanbadejo, Ravens linebacker and Super Bowl XLVII champ, has penned an op-ed for USA Today calling for an end to homophobia in sports. Ayanbaedjo has been a steadfast ally for equality since 2009, and was a leading voice in the successful campaign to bring marriage equality to Maryland.

Ayanbadejo also issued a call for his fellow athletes in joining him as a supportive voice for equality:

There are many reasons why no gay athlete has come out in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB, most of which are likely to go away with support and acceptance from the straight community. As leaders and even role models for millions of young people across the globe, professional athletes have the ability to fundamentally eliminate prejudice from our sport and live up to the incredible privilege we enjoy.

At its best, sports do not discriminate. If you are young or old, tall or short, male or female, gay or straight, all that really matters is how well you play and contribute to your team.

The NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA should and can be leaders against discrimination. Whether you're a commissioner, an athlete, a coach or a fan, your voice will let every kid out there know that there is a place for him or her in sports. We all can be ourselves and still compete with dignity and at the highest level.

This is our time and our cause. Everything we know as athletes, teammates, spokesmen and vehicles of American pastimes compels us toward the kind of action and camaraderie we saw from Pee Wee Reese nearly 66 years ago. It's as simple as putting our arm around the shoulder of another athlete. It's a gesture; it's a pledge; it's solidarity at its most basic. Our Jackie is coming. We need to pave the way.

Read the full piece.

Last week, Ayanbadejo released a video for the Respect for Marriage coalition advocating for marriage equality:

Filed under: Allies, Marriage, Sports

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