by David Ginsburg
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP)—Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was delighted to learn that the majority of Maryland voters shared his opinion on same sex marriage.
“I’m so stoked. It’s like I woke up and it’s Christmas,” Ayanbadejo said Wednesday, one day after gay marriage in the state was approved at the ballot box by a narrow margin.
Baltimore’s locker room reflects society, so not all of Ayanbadejo’s teammates shared his enthusiasm about the historic decision.
“When it’s all said and done, there are a lot of guys on this team that stand firmly behind what the Bible says—that a man marries a woman and a woman marries a man,” safety Bernard Pollard said.
The strong, opposite viewpoints have not divided the Ravens’ locker room. While players on both sides are passionate about their stances, they haven’t let their differences get in the way of the team’s unified quest for a playoff berth.
The Ravens (6-2) host Oakland (3-5) on Sunday.
Before Tuesday, gays and lesbians had been granted the right to marry by courts and state legislatures, but proponents of gay marriage had been defeated in voting by more than 30 states.
The Ravens have continued their business-like approach to football during the political discourse, but their convictions about the issue run deep within the testosterone-filled environment.
Ayanbadejo spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage on several occasions prior to Maryland’s vote on Question 6.
“It’s something I’ve been passionate about a long time,” he said. “Even though it doesn’t affect me directly, it affects a lot of my friends. It affects my family. It affects Ravens fans. It affects Marylanders. I’ve worked very hard on it; I’m especially proud of the Marylanders who went out and voted and made a difference.”
Whether his teammates like it or not.
“The majority of the people got it right,” Ayanbadejo said. “Who cares what they think in the locker room? Who cares what they think anywhere? The people decided. People have to take heed and listen to what people are crying for and what they are wanting. The majority of people voted it in.
“It’s a done deal and we did the right thing. It took too long. It shouldn’t have been up to other people to decide other people’s fate as far as who they can marry. But we’re progressing, so I’m happy about that.”
As Ayanbadejo spoke in front of his cubicle, several players made noise behind him to show their displeasure.
Pollard was not one of them. Nor was Ravens center Matt Birk, who wrote an editorial last month in The (Baltimore) Sun voicing his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Birk was not available for comment Wednesday, but Pollard was happy to give his own take on the issue.
“It shows you that people in high power are changing what was set for a very long time,” he said. “These are the principles, man, this is what life is about. But when it’s all said and done, they came in and changed it.”
Pollard was not bitter. Just disappointed.
“I’m not going to treat anybody any different. I think anybody who knows me knows that,” he said. “I’m going to love you just like I did. Whatever lifestyle you want to live, you’re entitled to that. I think you are. It’s just that, for us, we’ve got to continue to live life and continue to pray.”