The question of NFL players being allowed to speak out in favour of equal marriage has been a contentious issue recently, and those opposed to the idea are beginning to voice their opinions too.

Matt Birk, of the Baltimore Ravens, wrote an opinion piece in the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, voicing his opposition to equal marriage, and advocating the “protection” of marriage as one woman and one man. It read:

“I think it is important to set the record straight about what the marriage debate is and is not about, and to clarify that not all NFL players think redefining marriage is a good thing.

“Marriage is in trouble right now — admittedly, for many reasons that have little to do with same-sex unions. In the last few years, political forces and a culture of relativism have replaced “I am my brother’s keeper” and “love your neighbor as yourself” with “live and let live” and “if it feels good, go ahead and do it.””

“I am speaking out on this issue because it is far too important to remain silent.

“People who are simply acknowledging the basic reality of marriage between one man and one woman are being labeled as “bigots” and “homophobic.” Aren’t we past that as a society?

“A defense of marriage is not meant as an offense to any person or group. All people should be afforded their inalienable American freedoms.

“I encourage all Americans to stand up to preserve and promote a healthy, authentic promarriage culture in this upcoming election.”

Mr Birk is not the first to voice an opinion on the matter, as fellow Ravens player, Brendon Ayanbadejo was recently involved in a controversy because he was criticised for speaking in favour of equal marriage.

The native Minnesotan is also a former player of the Minnesota Vikings, home of Chris Kluwe, who wrote an impassioned letter to Delegate Emmett Burns, who had requested that Mr Ayanbadejo be made to stop campaigning for equal marriage.

Mr Kluwe is now campaigning for Minnesotans for Equality, a group pushing to approve equal marriage in Minnesota in November’s ballot on the issue, and Mr Ayanbadejo has continued to support the push for equal marriage rights.