Sports

Matt Birk on same-sex marriage becoming legal in Maryland: 'We live in a democracy'

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Pro Bowl center Matt Birk and Pro Bowl special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo were polar opposites on one of this election year's most politically charged debates.

While Ayanbadejo stumped passionately for same-sex marriage, which became legal Tuesday with Maryland courts now allowed to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in January, Birk spoke out against expanding the definition of marriage.

A devout Catholic and a married father of six children, Birk appeared in videos advocating for traditional marriage and wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in The Baltimore Sun.

Although Birk opposed the law change in Maryland, he accepted the voting process that unfolded.

"It's not about me, it's not about any one person," Birk told The Sun today. "It's about society. Obviously I made my point of view pretty clear. We live in a democracy and the results are what they are."

"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."

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider

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