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Players, Advocates Slam 49er Who Said Gays Unwelcome on Team

By Sunnivie Brydum

LGBT advocates and professional athletes alike are condemning San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver's Tuesday comment that a gay teammate would be unwelcome on his team — just one day after news broke that former 49er Kwame Harris is gay. 

Culliver, whose 49ers face the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday's Super Bowl, told radio shock jock Artie Lange Tuesday that "We don't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up out of here if they do." 

Culliver issued a tenuous apology, but LGBT advocates aren't buying it. Condemnation of Culliver's homophobic remarks was swift and substantial.

Culliver's own team released the following statement: "The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris. There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community."

LGBT advocate and Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo was swarmed by reporters looking for his reaction today. The linebacker estimated that 50% of NFL players agree with Culliver.

“I hear it every day,” he said, according to CBS Sports. “It's not just in the locker room. It's on my Twitter. It's on my Facebook. I'm not surprised, but that's why I speak so loudly. I truly believe in my heart that a sporting event will bring us all together. This is a nonfootball related story, but we're going to turn this into a positive thing. Culliver is going to turn it around and hopefully have the chance and opportunity to do that.”

Outspoken equality advocate and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe told the Family Equality Council, "While he’s certainly entitled to speak his mind, Culliver is a role model whether he likes it or not. There are kids all over the United States who aspire to be right where he is and he has an obligation to consider the effect of his words. Kids are listening.” 

Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out, an LGBT advocacy organization that fights against the "ex-gay" myth, called for Culliver's suspension … next season: "The NFL must take swift action and suspend Culliver for the first two games without pay next season. By doing so, they will send a strong signal to players that homophobia is unacceptable in the league."

Athlete Ally executive director Hudson Taylor said in a statement: "Chris Culliver’s comments were disrespectful, discriminatory and dangerous, particularly for the young people who look up to him. ... Culliver’s current views are as marginal as they are misguided. We’re seeing more and more NFL players take a stand against homophobia in sports through our advocacy and we know that support at this level is only going to grow. It is becoming clear that discrimination is on the fringe and has absolutely no place in sports."

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