NFL Players File Brief in Prop 8 Case

This is cool.Brendon Ayanbadejo, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, and Chris Kluwe, punter for the Minnesota Vikings, have long been outspoken in their support of LGBT equality. Now they’ve filed a brief in the Prop 8 case before the Supreme Court, urging the court to uphold the lower court ruling that struck down Prop 8. What I didn’t know is that both of them went to UCLA, so they have close ties to California. The brief says:

In short, just as application of the labels “gay” and “queer” in derogation indicate that one class of people is inferior, deprival of the label and status “married” equally indicates that the class is inferior. Even a fifth grader knows that words have very serious meaning, and even a fifth grader can see that the proponents of Proposition 8 provide no reasoned, evidence-based rationale for taking away that label and that all-important status. In America, there truly is no freedom until we’re equal.

The brief was written by Timothy Holbrook, a law professor at Emory University. And interestingly, the brief does talk about their status as professional athletes:

Sports figures receive a celebrity status that influences a large majority of the American population. For far too long, professional sports have been a bastion of bigotry, intolerance, and smallminded prejudice toward sexual orientation, just as they had been to racial differences decades earlier. That is finally changing, and changing drastically. The NFL, NHL, MLB, and NBA, at the league level, team level, and individual level, are finally speaking

out against homophobia and intolerance of LBGTQ individuals. More and more of us realize that using demeaning slur words like “faggot,” “queer,” and “gay” can have serious, negative consequences.

Not necessarily consequences for us. Instead, consequences for the children and adults who look up to us as role models and leaders. Consequences for children and adults who mimic our behavior when they interact with others. And consequences that can be severe, long-lasting, and not infrequently lead to suicide and other serious harm.

America has an ideal—exhibited imperfectly in the original Constitution and more perfectly in the Fourteenth Amendment—that all should be treated equally for what they are. When our government discriminates properly, it does so, not based on what we inherently are, but instead to regulate our negative actions against each other. Courts exist—

because of men who long ago placed individual freedom as an ultimate principle for their country—to correct government action that takes away freedoms when that action is motivated by fear and prejudice rather than by evidence and logic. This Court should correct Proposition 8’s action to remove marriage rights from same-sex couples because, as the district court and the Ninth Circuit majority so carefully explained, the advocates of Proposition 8 provided no evidence-based rationale—as opposed to one based on fear and prejudice—for treating LBGTQ citizens differently with respect to marriage.

Well said. You can read the full brief here.

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  • matty1

    Please tell me the brief includes at least one use of the term beautifully unique sparklepony.

  • I’ve never thought that sports stars should be considered role models. Not any more than actors, or singers, or anyone else who became famous through sheer talent or other reasons that have nothing to do with morality particularly. But since no one seems to listen to me, good on Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo for being positive role models. In Kluwe’s case, both as a sports star and a geek.

  • dingojack

    “…. indicate that one class of people is inferior, deprival of the label and status “married” equally indicates that the class is inferior. ”

    Yay, equal rights (and privileges) for single people! (I await my equivalent of the “baby bonus” and other marital welfare-benefits, although not with bated breath).


  • Yay, equal rights (and privileges) for single people! (I await my equivalent of the “baby bonus” and other marital welfare-benefits, although not with bated breath).

    I’d settle for a single person shower. It’s a bitch having to buy all of that fancy kitchen stuff yourself…

  • Sastra


    The brief several times says that “gay” is a “slur word.” Is it?

    I’ve been assuming it’s still acceptable unless it’s specifically used as an insult — but maybe this is changing. If so, I really hope I don’t have to replace it with “LBGTQ” because that’s awkward and I just know I’m going to get it out of order.

  • frog


    100% agree! My sister toyed with the idea of throwing a single-person shower on her 40th birthday. A sort of “I have bought you all wedding gifts and baby gifts; now show a little payback.”

    Alas, it’s still not socially acceptable. The closest we can get is a housewarming, if a single person manages to purchase their dwelling (which is more difficult if single).

    My married friends complain about how their incomes are combined for tax reporting, which drives them into a higher tax bracket. I point out that they save money on everything from rent/mortgage (instant roommate to split the cost!), to auto insurance, to only needing one of lots of things they would need two of if they were two single people (set of pots, microwave, most furniture, etc).

    Mostly we try not to talk about these things.

  • frog

    Sastra: I think they mean just as a slur word, taking a neutral descriptive word of a state of existence, and using it as a negative, thereby implying that such state of existence is inherently bad/inferior.

    It’s similar to objections of “girl” used as a slur, e.g., “You throw like a girl” “He cried like a little girl.”

    It’s still okay to say, “My friend Bob is gay” when all you’re intending to say is that Bob is sexually attracted to other men. (Or if Bob is a woman, then to women.)

  • Jim

    matty1 – Regrettably, no.

    frog – I agree – they’re meaning that the word “gay” can be used in a negative sense, not that it can only ever be used in a negative sense.

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