Former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan and his fiancée Nicole Murphy recorded a video for the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, making him one of just a handful of black athletes to publicly support same-sex marriage.
“As a defensive end for the New York Giants, I always played the game tough but fair. And I feel it’s unfair to stop committed couples from being married,” Strahan said in the video.
The Human Rights Campaign has featured a slew of celebrities and political figures expressing their support for marriage equality in 30-second videos. Strahan joins New York Rangers winger Sean Avery and Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash as the only professional athletes to endorse the campaign so far. Giants owner Steve Tisch will also release an HRC video this week.
When asked about being one of the few African-Americans to support the campaign, Strahan told the New York Times, “If someone wants to look at it that way, if it makes someone who is African-American feel more comfortable and want to join and get behind it, that’s great,” adding, “I look at it as a human rights type of situation more than anything else.”
The Times notes that tolerance towards gays in the sports world has been a mixed bag recently. Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, Joakin Noah of the Chicago Bulls, and Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell were all disciplined in the past few weeks for using anti-gay slurs. However, Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts became the first top-level N.B.A. executive to publicly declare his homosexuality, and in baseball, the San Francisco Giants filmed an “It Gets Better” video.
Other black athletes like Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Donté Stallworth, Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, and former Giants and Ravens player Will Demps have previously expressed support for same-sex marriage through other venues.
Strahan set records in his 15 years in the N.F.L., capping off his athletic career with a victory over the previously unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He is now a football analyst for Fox.
New York’s state legislature is expected to vote on same-sex marriage by June 20, after voting against it in 2009.