“Athletes’ Brief” on Marriage Equality

PRESS RELEASE:

 Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Scott Fujita Announce Broadening Support for “Athletes’ Brief” on Marriage Equality

Minneapolis, MN, March 21, 2013 — Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings and Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens announced today the addition of numerous supporters for their “Athletes’ Brief” with the U.S. Supreme Court (#AthletesBrief). Those supporters include men who have played for a dozen NFL teams, Pat Tillman Foundation President Marie Tillman, Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts, WNBA head coaches Cheryl Reeve and Pokey Chatman, Olympic silver medal winning beach volleyball players April Ross and Jennifer Kessy, and other professional and amateur athletes, such as Def Jam and Run Athletics co-founder Russell Simmons. The Athletes’ Brief was filed in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. The brief expresses the importance of equal rights, and the role that athletes play in affecting public behavior by the way they treat others, and especially their effect on young people.

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

“Brendon and I have emphasized all along that athletes have a special message when it comes to welcoming others as friends and teammates, without regard for their sexual orientation—we’ve made that point before in some unique ways, and we felt we had a special perspective to offer the Court in a very serious case about equality,” said Kluwe.

Ayanbadejo added, “We knew from our prior work and membership in organizations like Athlete Ally that support for basic human rights is widespread in the sports community, so we asked our friends like Scott Fujita if they would support that message in our brief.”

Fujita, a linebacker who was part of the New Orleans Saints team that won Super Bowl XLIV, reached out to his former teammates and found an equally positive reaction. Fujita noted, “Football is a macho sport, but we’ve found many players to be accepting. We hope to create an environment where a player who is gay will be treated like any other teammate.”

Kluwe, Ayanbadejo, and Fujita are all Ambassadors for Athlete Ally, a leading organization working to end homophobia in sports. They stand with Kenneth Faried, Connor Barwin, and scores of other athletes to support the mission. Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally, stated: “It’s exciting to see so many new sports voices joining Chris, Brendon, and Scott in the battle for marriage equality. Our Athlete Ally ambassadors continue to lead and inspire their communities. We hope these new athletes will also join our ambassadors in the growing movement to make sports a welcoming and respectful environment for all.” According to Brian Ellner, who led the Campaign for New York Marriage and who serves on the Athlete Ally Board of Directors, “Professional athletes played an outsized role as supportive messengers in our New York, Maine, Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota marriage wins, and it’s great to see so many stay involved as we take the fight for fairness to the Supreme Court.”

The “Athletes’ Brief” brief can be found at http://bit.ly/XdxbzX, and the list of supporters at www.athletesbrief.com. 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.

The supporters of the Athletes’ Brief include (subject to addition):

Chris Kluwe

NFL punter, Minnesota Vikings

Brendon Ayanbadejo

NFL linebacker, 2012 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens

Three-Time Pro Bowler

Scott Fujita

NFL linebacker, including with 2009 Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints

Marie Tillman

President and Co-Founder, Pat Tillman Foundation, a national leader in providing resources and educational scholarship support to veterans

Russell Simmons

Businessman and founder of Def Jam Records and Phat Farm clothing

Rick Welts

President & Chief of Operations, Golden State Warriors

Cheryl Reeve

WNBA Head Coach, Minnesota Lynx

WNBA Champion & Coach of the Year 2011

All-conference point guard, LaSalle

Pokey Chatman

WNBA Head Coach, Chicago Sky

Dominique Foxworth

President, NFL Players Association

Former NFL cornerback

Demaurice Smith

Executive Director, NFL Players Association

Patrick Nero

Athletic Director, George Washington U.

Kenneth Faried

NBA player, Denver Nuggets

All-American at Morehead State University

Robbie Rogers

Soccer Player, formerly with U. of Maryland, U.S. men’s national soccer team, and professionally with Columbus Crew (2008 MLS Cup winner) and Leeds United

Rashad Evans

Michigan State wrestler

Former UFC light heavyweight champion

Hudson Taylor

Division I Three-Time All-American wrestler

Columbia University coach

Hunter Hillenmeyer

Former NFL linebacker with Chicago Bears

Founder, OverDog, a service to connect fans to athletes via videogames

Esera Tuaolo

Former NFL defensive tackle and nose tackle

Board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation

Author of “Alone In The Trenches: My Life As A Gay Man In The NFL”

Wade Davis, Jr.

Former NFL Player

Frequent author and speaker on the issue of LGBT individuals in athletics

David Kopay

Former running back with the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, and Green Bay Packers

Adam Podlesh

NFL punter, Chicago Bears

Eric Barton

Former NFL linebacker with Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, and Cleveland Browns

Chris Gocong

NFL linebacker, Cleveland Browns

Alex Mack

NFL Center, Cleveland Browns

Winner of Draddy Trophy, the “academic Heisman”

Steve Gleason

Former NFL Safety, New Orleans Saints

Founder, Team Gleason, raising awareness of ALS

Connor Barwin

NFL linebacker, Philadelphia Eagles, formerly with Houston Texans

Kawika Mitchell

Former NFL linebacker, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, and New Orleans Saints

2007 Super Bowl Champion with Giants

D’Qwell Jackson

NFL Linebacker, Cleveland Browns

Elected team captain

Eric Winston

NFL Offensive Lineman, most recently with Kansas City Chiefs

Scott Shanle

NFL Linebacker, most recently with New Orleans Saints

2009 Super Bowl Champion with Saints

Sean Avery

Former NHL Left Wing with Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers

Joe Briggs

Former Texas Christian U. football player

Public Policy Counsel with NFL Players Ass’n

Professor, Georgetown University

Michelle Marciniak

Former point guard and National Champion (and MVP) with Tennessee Vols, and Seattle Storm of the WNBA

Former Asst. Coach – Univ. of S. Carolina

Co-Founder — Sheex luxury performance bed sheets

Susan Walvius

Former head women’s basketball coach at Virginia Commonwealth U., WVU, and U. of South Carolina

Co-Founder — Sheex luxury performance bed sheets

Beth Brooke

Global Vice-Chair, Public Policy, Ernst & Young

Former women’s basketball player, Purdue U.

James Cantelupe

Director, Barclays (Chicago)

Former NFL defensive back with Chicago ears and All-American defensive back with Army (West Point)

April Ross

Professional beach volleyball player

National Freshman of the Year and All-American at USC

2012 Olympic Silver Medalist, Beach Volleyball

Jennifer Kessy

Professional beach volleyball player

All-American at USC

2012 Olympic Silver Medalist, Beach Volleyball

Seimone Augustus

WNBA guard/forward, Minnesota Lynx

Two-time Olympic gold medalist

Three-time All-America with LSU

2011 WNBA Champion (Finals MVP) and three-time All-Star

Rebekkah Brunson

WNBA Forward, Minnesota Lynx

2011 WNBA All-Star

Founder, 32 Foundation, sponsoring academic and athletic opportunities for youth in the DC area

Kia Vaughn

WNBA center, Washington Mystics

Katura Horton-Perinchief

First female Bermudian to compete in Olympic diving

Jayne Appel

WNBA All-Star center, San Antonio Silver Stars

Tabi Bonney (Tabiabué Bonney)

Togo-born, Washington D.C.-based rapper

Former high school science teacher

Full story at: http://www.athletesbrief.com/

Filed in: Press Room • Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Comments

By William Maruyama on March 24th, 2013 at 10:37 am

Scott is a “Hero” to me and tens of thousands of young people around the world. Not because Scott is an accomplished and successful American Football athlete, which he is. Not because Scott has achieved fame from his successful athletic career, which he so rightfully deserves. And not because Scott is an outspoken and articulate athlete who has used his position and exposure to speak out about the issues and concerns that are important to him, which is his right and opportunity. No Scott is a “Hero” because of the wonderful individual he is. A tireless campaigner for the equal and free rights of others. A person who speaks the truth about what is right and what is decent. A leader who fights for justice and fairness regardless of race, creed, color, gender, national origin or sexual orientation. Not every athlete is a “Hero” and most clearly should never be labeled as one. Scott is an individual who is a “Hero” that just happens to be an athlete. I thank God for you Scott. You are a blessing for so many people in this World. Keep up the good fight and know that thousands support you 1000% as I do. Bill Maruyama

Thank you, all!!

By Tony Winch on March 24th, 2013 at 1:26 pm

You are my new hero. Let’s hope that when you retire from football you might consider running for public office. America needs leases who have your kind of integrity. Thanks for speaking up. You are an inspiration.

Tony & Nancy Winch

 

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About

Scott Fujita

Scott Fujita was born in Ventura, California on April 28, 1979. He was a three-sport standout at Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, CA before heading to the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated with Honors in Political Science and earned a Masters degree in Education.

Fujita has played in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns. Read more