By Reid Cherner, USA TODAY
The issue of marriage has become a hot topic for NFL players in Baltimore and Minnesota.
After Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo supported gay marriage, state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote a letter asking Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti hip to limit such comments from players.
That led Vikings punter Chris Kluwe to pen a profane letter to the delegate defending both free speech and gay marriage.
Now Ravens center (and former Viking) Matt Birk has penned an opinion in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune supporting free speech and opposing gay marriage.
...Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children -- the next generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.
I am speaking out on this issue because it is far too important to remain silent. People who are simply acknowledging the basic reality of marriage between one man and one woman are being labeled as "bigots" and "homophobic." Aren't we past that as a society?
Don't we all have family members and friends whom we love who have same-sex attraction? Attempting to silence those who may disagree with you is always un-American, but especially when it is through name-calling, it has no place in respectful conversation.
A defense of marriage is not meant as an offense to any person or group. All people should be afforded their inalienable American freedoms. There is no opposition between providing basic human rights to everyone and preserving marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman.
I hope that in voicing my beliefs I encourage people on both sides to use reason and charity as they enter this debate. I encourage all Americans to stand up to preserve and promote a healthy, authentic pro-marriage culture in this upcoming election.