Brendon Ayanbadejo on Matt Birk's support of traditional marriage: 'We respectfully disagree'

Ravens special-teams ace and reserve linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo holds an opposing view to teammate Matt Birk, an advocate of traditional marriage.

Both players are involved in the political debate involving same-sex marriage, with Ayanbadejo a strong supporter for Marylanders for Marriage Equality who has done a video for that organization, and Birk having released two videos against redefining marriage in Minnesota and Maryland.

Although they have different opinions, Birk and Ayanbadejo share a locker room and mutual respect.

"We respectfully disagree," Ayanbadejo told The Baltimore Sun. "The only thing I'd like to point is I'm a product of a biracial family. There was a point in time when my parents couldn't marry. There was a point where there weren't black players in locker rooms a la Jackie Robinson and people thought that was OK back then. We're just trying to change people's mindsets to do what's right and we don't want to take rights away from people. We want more equality.

"That's the big difference. A lot of people say, 'How can you be friends with somebody like that?' But I feel like I was put here to help change people and change minds and opinions and attitude. Just because Matt doesn't think the same way as me and it does affect people in a negative way and hurt people, I'm not going to dismiss our friendship because of that. I think my purpose is to help people lke that do what's right."

Ayanbadejo is also hosting a fundraiser in Federal Hill next week with Gov. Martin O'Malley scheduled to attend.

A Roman Catholic father of six children from Minnesota, Birk has a history of supporting political causes.

Ayanbadejo, who grew up in California, said it's not a problem that he and Birk are on different sides of this highly charged election campaign issue.

"Ultimately, we're both mature players with families and we have a lot of similaries, more similarities than differences," Ayanbadejo said. "Coincidentally, we're two guys with two different opinions on this issue on the same team. We're presenting dialogue and talk as concerned citizens and trying to do what's best for our communities. It's a good example of two football players that are advocates for causes trying to help people, but we have a difference of opinion. What are the chances we would be on the same team?"

awilson@baltsun.com