The Chicago Bears are baring their claws over recent claims made by the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) Ruth Institute about the team's support of the anti same-sex marriage movement.
The Ruth Institute, which promotes the "traditional family," recently sent out invitations to its 2013 It Takes A Family (ITAF) Gala on June 2. In the invitation, the group advertises a raffle of Chicago Bears memorabilia signed by two former team members, linebacker Brian Urlacher and deceased running back Walter Payton.
"Several donors have stepped up and donated terrific items for us to raffle as prizes in an effort to raise funds for ITAF '13," reads an email sent by the organization. "[Y]ou should know that we have two fabulous raffle items from the Chicago Bears Organization (and a huge THANK YOU to the Bears for supporting our message)."
However, the Chicago Bears, Urlacher and Payton deny any affiliation with the Ruth Institute or support for any anti-gay agenda.
"If I would have known it was for this cause, I wouldn't have done it," Urlacher said of his donation, per the Chicago Tribune.
A tweet was sent from the Bears' official account in response to criticism over the alleged support.
Dr. Jennifer Morse, who heads the Ruth Institute, eventually recanted the information in the invitation.
"The Ruth Institute is not working with the Chicago Bears organization or any of its players past or present to promote our upcoming auction," Morse said, according to the Tribune. "The memorabilia we are auctioning off was acquired by me personally, not through the team or players. We understand that the Chicago Bears organization takes no position on social issues, and we regret any confusion we may have caused on this point."
The group amended the gala invitation, as well.
Equality Matters went undercover last year at a Ruth Institute event for college students and revealed that the NOM organization was promoting homophobic rhetoric to attendees. Some of the lowlights included false claims about same-sex parents molesting children, homosexuality's similarity to incest and polygamy and the “dysfunctional” state of same-sex relationships.