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.

 

Contact:         John Dragseth
                        Fish & Richardson P.C.
                        612-335-5070
                        dragseth@fr.com

 

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
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 Association
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 Bears 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

KaturaHorton-Perinchief
First female Bermudian to compete in Olympic diving

Jayne Appel
WNBA All-Star Center, San Antonio Silver Stars

TabiBonney (Tabiabué Bonney)
Togo-born, Washington D.C.-based rapper
Former high school science teacher