Athletes and The Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 majority in favor of gay marriage nationwide. Specifically, the ruling declared that in the eyes of the law, the U.S. constitution allows for same-sex marriages in all 50 states, meaning that it is consequently illegal for any state to refuse the right of marriage to a couple on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Navratilova

Navratilova

This ruling comes on the heels of a number of developments over the course of the past decade or so that have brought the U.S. closer and closer to marriage equality. A detailed outline of the history of LGBT rights in America shows that several landmark events — California’s nullification of Proposition Eight (which blocked same-sex marriages back in 2003) or the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling that declared it illegal for states to refuse to recognize gay marriages, among others — have led to the recent declaration. Indeed, a strong majority of states had already legalized same-sex marriage.

But the Supreme Court ruling now stands as arguably the most significant achievement to date for LGBT rights advocates. It’s also the end of a long struggle for universal marriage equality. And as tends to be the case with major political and societal issues, a number of prominent athletes and sports organizations were among those sharing reactions to the news! Here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy opinions of athletes (and of those athletes only) that were circulating the weekend after the Supreme Court decision.

A number of the more prominent celebrity reactions, including those from Landon Donovan, Alex Morgan, Mardy Fish and the entirety of the WNBA, were positive, celebratory and grateful. But perhaps even more noteworthy were a slew of responses from athletes with strong connections to the LGBT community. Prominent gay athletes past and present, such as former tennis greats Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova and professional basketball player Jason Collins added their own positive reactions. Also, current NBA star Kenneth Faried, who was raised by two mothers, surely warmed some hearts as well, standing up jubilantly in favor of the ruling. Perhaps the most telling of them all was Navratilova’s statement in her tweet: “We are legal everywhere.”

For The Win also covered some athlete reactions to the news and added a number of tweets from entire organizations. Interestingly enough, the majority came from MLS franchises, with the Seattle Sounders, Columbus Crew and L.A. Galaxy all offering public support for the ruling. Among these reactions, Galaxy star Robbie Rogers, who was once recognized by President Obama for blazing a trail for gay athletes, also chipped in by tweeting:

All of these reactions and the fact that they were shared in a forum as public as Twitter, display how far the athletic world has come in accepting LGBT movements and individuals. Naturally, there remain many opinions out there that still go against same-sex marriage and gay rights. However, the ongoing legal progress made by LGBT advocates seems to be enabling those athletes who do support or have direct connections to LGBT communities feel more comfortable expressing themselves. Given that sports, at their core, are about community and relationships, this is a fascinating development to see. And perhaps no one has better summarized the progress we’ve seen (and the road yet to travel) than Oklahoma University track and field athlete Tanner Williams. A married, gay individual, Williams wrote a profound editorial that serves as a great comprehensive look at the state of athletes today as they relate to LGBT movements.

That editorial is fantastic reading for anyone with a particular interest in these issues. But suffice it to say that last week’s Supreme Court ruling and the generally positive tone of reactions among athletes shows a drastically changing public mindset — and a great deal more acceptance in athletic communities.

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