As a major advocate for allowing same-sex marriage, Ravens Pro Bowl special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo is overjoyed that the state of Maryland has now made it legal.
Starting in January, Maryland courts can begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
"I'm so stoked," Ayanbadejo said. "It's like I woke up and it was Christmas."
Growing up in California, Ayanbadejo, who's not gay, said he quickly learned to embrace diversity. He acknowledged that his stance on the issue was unpopular in the Ravens' locker room.
"For it to be passed in four states, marriage equality, there are some guys that are really upset with marriage equality in the locker room," Ayanbadejo. "I think at the end of the day I think the majority of the guys, whether you call it a civil union, or whatever you call it, just to be recognized in the state and have the same rights as heterosexual couples, that's all you can ask for. I'm happy about it."
In interviews, videos and via his Twitter account, Ayanbadejo was an outspoken proponent of the cause.
"It's something I've been so passionate about for a long time," Ayanbadejo 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 hard on it very diligently.
"I've been torn down at times, but lifted up many more than the ones that tore me down. I'm very proud of the Marylanders who went out there and voted and made the difference."
Now, six other states as well as Maryland plus the District of Columbia have voted to allow same-sex marriage.
In Maryland, Question Six was passed as Ayanbadejo and six-time Ravens Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, a married, Catholic father of six children, on opposite sides of a serious political debate. Birk appeared in videos and wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in The Baltimore Sun speaking in favor of traditional marriage.
"Guys give me flak every day, they make fun of me in meetings, but, at the end of the day, the majority of them know it's the right thing to treat people equally," Ayanbadejo said. "I think guys respect me. I haven't talked to [Birk] today, but the majority of the people got it right. Who cares what they think in the locker room? Who cares what people think anywhere? The majority of the people got it right, and the people decided.
"People have to take heed and listen to what people are crying for and what they're wanting. The majority of the people voted it in and 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 people's fate of who they can marry, but we're progressing. So, I'm happy about that."