Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo drew the ire of a Maryland politician for his stance on gay marriage.
Maryland Delegate Emmett C. Burns wrote a letter to Ravens majority owner Steve Bisciotti condemning Ayanbadejo for supporting gay marriage, something Ayanbadejo has been outspoken about in recent years.
"Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other," Burns wrote. "Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement."
Ayanbadejo said he was surprised by the letter, but that he'll continue to voice his opinion. He said he's received support from those inside the organization, including Ravens President Dick Cass.
"It's something I was raised with, that everybody was created equal and people are born gay, it's not a choice," Ayanbadejo said. "Since it's not a choice to be gay, why would they choose to be discriminated against?"
The issue is a hot topic as Maryland is one of four states holding a vote this November to legalize gay marriage. The Maryland legislators passed a bill legalizing gay marriage, which was signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley, but The Maryland Marriage Alliance gathered enough signatures on a petition to put the bill up for referendum.
Burns, a Democrat from Baltimore County, also wrote that "Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base."
Bisciotti and Cass plan to draft a letter in response to Burns, though a team representative said it will not be released to the public. However, Cass did release a brief statement.
“We support Brendon's right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment," Cass said.
Ayanbadejo said athletes should take a bigger stand to support gay marriage, calling it an equality issue. Ayanbadejo added he would support a gay teammate in the Ravens locker room.
"For me, as long as the guy can do the job I don't really care," Ayanbadejo said. "If the person next to me gets the job done and they trust me and I trust them, it doesn't matter who or what they are."
Follow Ravens reporter Jason Butt on Twitter: @CBSSportsNFLBAL and @JasonButtCBS.