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Ernie Banks, Richard Dent sign letter backing gay marriage

Chicago Cubs Hall Fame shortstop Ernie Banks addresses mediduring news conference before Anaheim Angels-Texas Rangers game Wednesday Sept. 25 2002

Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks addresses the media during a news conference before the Anaheim Angels-Texas Rangers game Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2002, at the Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. Banks said he thinks Texas Rangers' Alex Rodriguez is currently the best shortstop in the game.(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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Updated: March 7, 2013 2:46PM



Chicago sports legends Ernie Banks and Richard Dent are among a group of professional athletes who have signed their names to a letter urging the Illinois General Assembly to make gay marriage legal in the state.

“In Illinois today, gay and lesbian couples who are in lifetime committed relationships do not have the freedom to marry,” the athletes write in “An Open Letter from Athletes on Marriage Equality.”

“This violates our sense of fairness and respect. It also goes against the golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated yourself. In sports, any time a player is not treated with fairness and respect, the game is diminished. Similarly, treating any group of people as second-class citizens hurts us all, because discrimination is wrong no matter whom the target is.”

In addition to Banks, known as “Mr. Cub,” and Dent, a Super Bowl-winning Bears defensive end, retired Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and former Bears linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo signed their names to the letter, as part of the Illinois Unites for Marriage campaign.

The athletes urge state legislators to act now.

“It’s the right thing for Illinois; it’s the right thing to do, period,” they write.



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