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Press Releases

Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Scott Fujita Announce New “Athletes’ Brief” on Marriage Equality at Supreme Court

March 6, 2015

Press Releases

Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Scott Fujita Announce New “Athletes’ Brief” on Marriage Equality at Supreme Court

March 6, 2015

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Minneapolis, MN, March 6, 2015 – Former NFL players and human rights supporters Chris Kluwe (Minnesota Vikings), Brendon Ayanbadejo (Baltimore Ravens), and Scott Fujita (New Orleans Saints), announced today that they have filed an “Athletes’ Brief” with the U.S. Supreme Court (#AthletesBrief) in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges (No. 14-556), which is the case that will consider whether marriage equality should be the law of the land, rather than a select few states.  This brief supplements an earlier amicus brief they filed in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenged California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage.  Both briefs express the importance of equal rights, and the role that athletes play in affecting public behavior and perception toward issues like homosexuality.

Kluwe and Ayanbadejo are represented pro bono in the Supreme Court by appellate specialist John Dragseth of Fish & Richardson, and Timothy Holbrook, Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law.

The brief emphasizes how much has changed in the mere two years since the Hollingsworth case – with 38% of Americans then living in states having marriage equality, and the number increasing to 70% now – and nearly 8 in 10 young people now supporting marriage equality.  The brief also highlights the great change in sports during the same period, with both Jason Collins in the NBA and Michael Sam in the NFL both becoming the first out gay players in their respective sports.  In both situations, the brief points out, “the supposedly backward, macho group of professional male athletes was itself professional enough to treat these men properly and as equals – something that the U.S. laws can also certainly do.”  With respect to their own experience living in California, they note that they “can affirm, without question, that the introduction of gay marriage around them has been a great, direct, and life-improving action for their gay friends.  And for their straight friends and acquaintances, they can affirm that the change has had no effect.”  Yet, the brief notes, many have leveled bigoted attacks against both athletes, attacks which mirror those for race in sports more than 50 years ago:

Is it really too hard to see the parallels between this and what people said of Jackie Robinson almost 70 years ago?  Jackie Robinson was a singular athlete and singular man, but the slurs hurled against him sprang from the same place as the slurs hurled against Michael Sam.  They are illegitimate views, wrongly-motivated, and used to take equal rights away from the minority.  They led this Court to apply the Constitution properly in the area of race a half-century ago, and they should lead to proper application of the Constitution again today.

The men close by calling for the Supreme Court to declare marriage equality the law of the land:

America has an ideal – exhibited imperfectly in the original Constitution and more perfectly in the Fourteenth Amendment – that all should be treated equally for who they are.  Institution of marriage equality broadly will not solve all our ills, but it’s a good place to start, and we Americans are ready for it.  The Court should reverse in these cases, and align them with the decisions of every other court of appeals.

Kluwe, Ayanbadejo, and Fujita are all Ambassadors for Athlete Ally, a leading organization working to end homophobia in sports.  They stand with scores of other athletes to support the mission.

Click here to view the “Athletes’ Brief” brief.  Please refer to this event with the hashtag “#AthletesBrief”.

Other top athletes, coaches, and executives interested in supporting the Athletes’ Brief should contact Fish & Richardson’s Dragseth at dragseth@fr.com.  Those interested in supporting Athlete Ally should visit http://www.athleteally.org/ and make the pledge.

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