UFC light-heavyweight fighter "Suga" Rashad Evans has become the latest pro athlete to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn bans on same-sex marriage. Evans has signed a brief to the Court started by NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo. Evans was asked by Outsports why he was compelled to take a stand and he issued this statement:
“I've never been a homophobe, never understood what that is all about. I knew some people who were gay and never cared about their sexuality. But at the same time, I didn't fully understand the issues around gay people until my friend BA started telling me about his full public support for gay marriage. We talked about the issue and I decided its not enough to not be against a minority, if you want things to go better for them you have to speak up with them.
“I'm a UFC fighter, a macho-type sport. I am a heterosexual guy in a tough macho sport, which is exactly the reason I feel a duty to say I support gay marriage and gay rights.
“I have nothing to gain personally from supporting this issue, and that's the point. Society as a whole is better when there is equality, and I want to live in a country where everyone has the same rights because we all benefit from that.
“What people overlook is that is isn't a sex issue, its a love issue. There's no justifiable reason for trying to get in the way of two people who love each other.
“I have kids. I don't want them growing up in a society where they, or their friends, could be second class citizens based on which person they fall in love with or who they want to be happy with.”
This is one of the most powerful affirmation of gay equality I have seen from an athlete. Evans also had this Twitter exchange with Brad Michael of Minnesotans For Equality, a group that helped defeat an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment in Minnesota last fall:
This has been a great month for the UFC in gay rights visibility. First, the UFC heavily promoted openly lesbian fighter Liz Carmouche in her title fight against Ronda Rousey, and now we have a prominent ex-champion (scheduled to fight again in June) lending his support to gay marriage.
In addition to adding Evans to the Supreme Court brief, Ayanbadejo says that NFLPA head Dominique Foxworth and Patrick Nero, George Washington University athletic director, will also sign the document. You can read Kluwe's and Ayanbadejo's brief here.