Same-Sex Marriage and the NFL Gambit

What Americans say in public about same-sex marriage isn't necessarily a good barometer of public opinion, because, if we're going to be honest, there's a huge discrepancy between the opinions that Americans express in polls and the opinions they express at the polls. Recent polls may show a slight majority support for same-sex marriage, but the overwhelming majority of popular state ballot initiatives disallowing it suggest a widespread popular opposition. So the position that many Americans might offer to a potentially PC pollster may not be the same conclusion they might reach in a voting booth, all alone with their beliefs -- religious or otherwise.

The truth is that many Americans who oppose same-sex marriage fear publically speaking their minds about it, a direct result of a calculated propaganda campaign to shame dissenters. This is the muzzling effect of political correctness that Dr. Ben Carson occasionally speaks of. Honest discussion cannot take place because the engineers oiling this propaganda machine have centered the terms and assumptions of the dialogue on the completely false notion that opposition to same-sex marriage is inseparable from a bigoted hatred of homosexuals. Therefore, dissenting voices are either wrongfully marginalized as archaic intolerance, or remain silent in fear of being so marginalized.

It's important for Americans to understand that the same-sex marriage campaign is about the disenfranchisement of dissenters, not empowerment. The protests, the social media memes, the entire agenda is about demonizing opponents of same-sex marriage in the homestretch leading to the Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8, California's ballot initiative which banned gay marriage. If the Court strikes down Prop 8, any state ban on same-sex marriage will essentially become null and void.

To give you an idea at just how dishonest these efforts are, Mike Freeman of CBS Sports has recently written that an anonymous NFL player wants to be openly gay, but the player "fears he will suffer serious harm from homophobic fans, and that is the only thing preventing him from coming out." But, "[i]f the Supreme Court overturns Proposition 8, it would send yet another signal to the closeted NFL community that the environment is changing for the better."

The logic is deceitful. Same-sex marriage legislation has absolutely nothing to do with an NFL player being openly gay, but Freeman conveniently lumps the issues together. Let's make the absurd assumption that America is so chock-full of violent homophobes that a gay player can't walk to practice without being beaten up or worse. Even if that were true, would nine lawyers overruling a popular state decision really change that?

Of course not. And once we realize that the stated purpose for linking this story with same-sex marriage is papier-mâché, it's easy to discern the real motive -- to shame and censure opponents of same-sex marriage as the reason gay NFL players fear violent reprisal, and to sensationalize the issue in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling.

And the issue's gotten even more sensational. The media was all atwitter on Friday as it was reported that not one, but four NFL players planned to simultaneously announce their homosexuality very soon. Author Andrew Sharp happily proclaimed:

[E]veryone prepare themselves for the most insane day of the NFL offseason in human history. A day to make the sports world explode, basically.

And it would be awesome.

The one reason to worry about an NFL player coming out as gay would be the inevitable avalanche of horrible jokes, hateful responses, and insane scrutiny, all directed at one human being.

It's laughable, isn't it? After all, why might these players be the subject of "intense scrutiny" when Andrew Sharp and the other ringmasters are politicizing this event in efforts to make sure that these players are the focus of "a day to make the sports world explode?"

And as if all of this weren't silly enough, it turns out that these rumors about NFL players announcing their homosexuality were false, and amounted to little more than wishful thinking by former Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo, who both originated and debunked Friday's news about four NFL players coming out.

After admitting that these four players aren't really in talks to come out together, he admitted his real motive for making the claim:

What we want to facilitate is getting them all together so they can lean on each other, so they can have a support group. And potentially it's possible, it's fathomable, that they could possibly do something together, break a story together.

So four players aren't considering coming out together, but Ayanbadejo thinks they should, and he thinks they should do it soon because it would be a great breaking story. None of that is surprising, as he has been extremely vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, and with the decision on Prop 8 looming, a story like this making waves would help his cause immensely. It's not about empowering these gay players, as he claims. It's about helping his cause.

Players should have every right to be openly gay in the NFL. If it were that alone, it would not be a big deal. But Freeman, Sharp, Ayanbadejo, and the media at large obviously have more invested in pushing the same-sex marriage agenda than in these players' ability to simply exist comfortably as gay men in the NFL, hence all the hoopla and fanfare centered on their homosexuality coupled with frequent references to same-sex marriage legislation -- again, one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Simply put, if these men really want a player's announcement of his homosexuality to be a "non-issue" as they claim, they wouldn't be making it an issue.

Furthermore to that point, if players don't want it to be an issue, they might consider not making a spectacle of an announcement.

But then, that would defeat the purpose for Ayanbadejo and the media, because the spectacle is the point. It would be all about the attention to these players' homosexuality, much to the chagrin of whatever owners and teammates might happen to be in the line of fire. Many players and coaches would be unwilling participants in a media circus that has nothing to do with their profession. You thought Terrell Owens was a locker room distraction? The media would be all over these guys. Not just ESPN and TMZ, but CNN, MSNBC, Fox News... basically every sports, gossip, or political news outlet known to man. They'd be interviewing anyone and everyone near the player, champing at the bit to get just a whiff of locker room homophobia and report it as a rampant societal disease. They'd be praying that one of these players is on the roster bubble, because the case defending a decision to cut one of them could be iron-clad, but it won't hold up to the media's onslaught suggesting that homophobia was the real cause. And they'd be watching every hit a gay player absorbs on the field, because any hits he absorbs that seem extra bone-crushing will be the obvious result of homophobia.

It's not about truthful reporting, as Ayanbadejo aptly proves, but about perpetuating a fabricated crisis and advancing an agenda. It's a show, and the mass coming-out is just the latest episode. The media presents Americans with an illusion, suggesting that because there is no federal same-sex marriage allowance, there must be a homophobia epidemic. The truth is that there is no epidemic, but we are still a center-right nation that wishes to protect our deeply-rooted cultural institution of marriage, and our laws safeguard our right to do so. Therefore, honesty and law take a backseat to lies and manipulation when trying to undo legally implemented same-sex marriage bans like California's.

We conservatives shouldn't fear that Americans have moved to the left on the issue. If that were true, states would legislate it far and wide. Sure, the media's tactics in manipulating public opinion and silencing dissent would still be despicable, but at least it would be lawful in our constitutional republic for same-sex marriage to be implemented this way. What we really need to fear is the fact that when the Supreme Court goes to rule on Prop 8, it may, yet again, forget that its job is to interpret law and not create it. We need to fear that one or more of these judges might lick a finger, feel for the direction of the political gales, and react to the storm-in-a-bottle that the media has created, thereby authoritatively changing the direction of our nation and its culture while simultaneously disenfranchising millions of Americans.

William Sullivan blogs at can be followed on Twitter.