In the wake of Ravens special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo taking a strong public stance supporting same-sex marriage, one of his teammates has expressed an opposing view on this high-profile political topic.
Six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, a Catholic and married father of six children who grew up in St. Paul, Minn., has appeared in an online video for the Minnesota Catholic Conference where he asks voters to keep marriage between only a man and a woman. Birk also wrote an editorial that appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Birk emphasized today that his political views won't divide the locker room, adding that he alerted Ayanbadejo before the editorial ran in the newspaper to make sure he wouldn't be caught off guard.
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"I took a stance like other guys have done before me," Birk said today at team headquarters. "In doing so, it's really not my aim not my goal to engage in any debates with any one person or persons. Obviously, we all have opinions. They have their opinions. It just so happens that we disagree on what marriage is in the public forum. It's certainly a very inflammatory, very hot topic, because it's important. I understand that. Out of respect to my teammates and my team and the organization, this isn't going to turn into a circus. It probably won't be the last time that I publicly take a stance on it. I'm just asking you guys out of respect for everybody that my focus and our focus here is on football and on winning football games.
"I let Brendon know that I respect him because I've known Brendon for a while and I played with his brother [Obafemi Ayanbadejo]. And I like Brendon and I respect him a lot. I told him on Friday that I was going to have a piece coming out. I wanted to let him know so he wouldn't be blindsided by it. I haven't had a chance to talk to him today."
Minnesota currently doesn't allow same-sex marriage, and an amendment to the state constitution has been proposed in Hennepin County, Minn., that would potentially prevent lawmakers or judges from altering the law going forward by redefining marriage in the state.
"Outside and unfortunately even inside our own parishes we have people telling us to stop talking about marriage, an institution that the church has been talking about for thousands of years," Birk said in the video. "They say if we stand up and talk about the natural definition of marriage that we are somehow being mean or bullies. Supporting the basic rights of children and the authentic rights of people with same-sex attraction are not mutually exclusive and we must resist the forces that are telling us otherwise. It's unfair to childen if we don't make every effort to stand up for their rights, to be known and loved by their mother and their father whenever possible. While divorce, death and other circumstances too often prevent it, no child should be intentionally deprived of knowing their mother and their father. If we allow genderless marriage to be made law, the implication is that the contributions of part of our community, either men or women, are somehow insignifcant and less valuable.
"I can put up with a lot from the government like higher taxes and while I don't like it, pushing God out of public schools, but letting a small number of business and government elites and judges define what marriage is for Minnesotans doesn't seem very fair and doesn't make a lot of sense. Politicians have said they will try to redefine marriage at their earliest opportunity, even next year, if the marriage amendment doesn't pass. Our culture today of moral relativism attacks marriage and a lot of our Catholic values, but marriage is a foundation of our society and it's definitely something worth fighting for, my marriage and the institution of marriage itself. A lot of people say, live and let live, let everybody do what they want, but this is too important of an issue to do that on. We need to fight and preserve it, for our sake for our children's sake. The state should have laws to protect marriage. I don't think it's their place to redefine it. I believe this is God's will, to stand up and fight for one of the gifts he blessed us with."