Martina Navratilova to Margaret Court: Don't deny us same-sex marriage

Tennis great Margaret Court stirred controversy at this year's Australian Open with his vocal opposition to same-sex marriage. She was taken to task by activists on the issue and by tennis legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. As the event was ending this past weekend, Navratilova, right, wrote an open letter to Court that ran in the Herald Sun in Australia.

Giving gays and lesbians the right to marry isn't just a gay rights issue; it is a human rights issue. It is about equal rights and protection under the law for all human beings. Quite simply, it is the right thing to do. It most certainly is a secular issue and not a religious one.

One does not need to be a Christian in order to fall in love and want to marry, straight or gay, otherwise atheists would not be allowed to marry, right? Marriage can be and often is a religious celebration but legally speaking, it is a contract between two people who promise to love each other. ...

You say it is a choice to be gay; do you mean to say you had feelings for women as well as men and chose men? That might explain your certainty on the issue. The feelings one has for either gender are most certainly not a choice, they simply are; the butterflies that hit you in the gut are not a choice, they are just there. The choice is whether or not one acts on such feelings.

Sports Illustrated tennis writer Jon Wertheim said that Court's comments did not draw much attention at the event itself, saying players and officials were "largely mute."

Some of you were discouraged and saw this as everyone ran screaming from controversy. Others were encouraged and felt as though silence meant that Court was seen as someone far in the margins, unworthy of a response. A few thought the opposite: maybe this was an indication that perhaps her views are more widely held than media types assumed.

My guess is that most people did not see a tennis tournament as a vehicle for discussing a social issue like same-sex marriage and preferred to not say anything. Thankfully, Navratilova saw this as precisely the right time to call out Court for her homophobia at the time when people would be paying attention.

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