NFL player’s opposition to marriage equality: ‘Marriage is in trouble right now’

Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk (L) during drills at a July NFL football training camp. Birk recently spoke out against marriage equality.
Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk (L) during drills at a July NFL football training camp. Birk recently spoke out against marriage equality.
Gail Burton / AP

Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk penned an op-ed this past weekend for the Minneapolis Star Tribune condemning same-sex marriage.

“I think it is important to set the record straight about what the marriage debate is and is not about, and to clarify that not all NFL players think redefining marriage is a good thing,” Birk wrote.

His piece goes on to say that “marriage is in trouble right now” for many reasons, and America has a duty to “preserve and promote a healthy, authentic pro-marriage culture.” 

Birk encouraged all Americans to engage in the debate over marriage equality with civility and respect, but added that he was against redefining marriage:

“Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children—the next generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect that broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.”

He also adds that his choice to speak out against same-sex marriage is “not meant as an offense to any person or group” and that “there is no opposition between providing basic human rights to everyone and preserving marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman.”

Birk’s piece comes on the heels of his teammate Brendon Ayanbadejo’s outspoken support for marriage equality. Ayanbadejo has long been an advocate for marriage equality and was recently thrust into the spotlight when a Maryland State delegate sent a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti condemning the Ravens linebacker for making such a public endorsement. The delegate later backed down on his attacks and acknowledged Ayanbadejo’s right to free speech.

Ayanbadejo told msnbc’s Thomas Roberts earlier this month that he’d received an overwhelming amount of support, including support from within the NFL community. In a vitriolic letter to the Maryland delegate who condemned Ayanbadejo and asked the Ravens to silence him, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote,

You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?”

Kluwe also responded to Birk in the Pioneer Press on Monday in an open letter that addressed each of Birk’s concerns. He criticized Birk’s unwillingness to accept a redefinition of marriage and argued that marriage has already been redefined over the years:

“Marriage used to be one man and multiple women. Marriage used to be a way to exchange property between two families. Marriage used to be between brother and sister to keep the royal bloodline pure. Marriage used to be between children. Marriage used to be only for people that were the same skin color. Marriage used to be a lot of things, many of them oppressive towards women and minorities. I think I’d rather marriage be between two people that love each other and are committed to each other no matter what combination of fleshy bits are hanging off their bodies; not a reality TV show.”

Kluwe also added that the only impact same-sex marriage would have on the next generation would be on those who are gay and cannot get married, and that he planned to commit himself to tearing down those barriers that stopped people from marrying the ones they love.

Maryland is one of the four states to vote this November on same-sex marriage. See Melissa’s recent discussion about down-ballot issues after the jump.



NFL player's opposition to marriage equality: 'Marriage is in trouble right now'