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Gay athletes, gay marriage on Tuesday election ballot

Brian Sims

The election Tuesday features four ballot initiatives dealing with same-sex marriage and two openly gay former athletes from Pennsylvania running for office.

History will be made in Pennsylvania when Brian Sims is elected to the state House, the first openly gay person to do so. Sims, a former college football captain familiar to Outsports readers, won a hotly contested Democratic primary in the 182nd district where he beat a longtime incumbent. Sims does not have an opponent Tuesday and he has spent the past few months campaigning for other candidates; there are two other gay men and one lesbian running for House seats in the state.

Another gay former Pennsylvania athlete, cross-country runner Craig Cassey Jr., is a sophomore at Georgetown University and running for one of eight seats on the Advisor Neighborhood Commission, part of the District of Columbia government. Said Cassey:

"I'm running as a write-in, no competition. The ANC handles zoning issues primarily, liquor licenses, beautification projects, and the approval of Georgetown University's campus plan which dictates if we can build on campus, if we can extend our reaches off campus, how many students we can accept, etc. The student ANCs are typically the ambassadors to the community, given the task of rebuilding bridges between community members and students alike, which is a large part of why I'm running."

Athletes are also prominent in two of the four states where same-sex marriage is on the ballot:

  • Minnesota. An initiative would ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution. NFL player Chris Kluwe has been the most prominent spokesman for the "no" campaign. Another ex-NFL player (and one who is openly gay), Esera Tuaolo, is also involved in the campaign, as are University of Minnesota basketball player Trevor Mbakwe and Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx. One prominent athlete for the "yes" side is former Minnesota Viking and current Baltimore Raven center Matt Birk. Two latest polls have the "no" side ahead, one by 48% to 47% and the other by 52% to 48%, so it can go either way.
  • Maryland. Voters are being asked to OK a same-sex marriage law already approved by the legislature and signed by the governor. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been a longtime advocate for gay marriage and has been vocal in this election. "I'm hetero married 2 kids just believe in equality," he tweeted Sunday when asked whether he was gay. The latest polls show the issue too close to call, with the law's supporters having a slight lead.
  • Maine and Washington state. There are no prominent athletes involved in either race, but both states could be the first to OK gay marriage. In Maine, the "yes" on gay marriage side has a 55% to 42% lead. A Washington state poll last week showed the gay marriage law passing 58% to 38%, the biggest pro-gay marriage margin I have ever seen on such an initiative this late in an election.