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Ethics panel cites Burns’ use of letterhead in same-sex marriage debate

ANNAPOLIS — An ethics panel has criticized a Maryland lawmaker for using his official letterhead to urge Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to restrain a football player from publicly supporting same-sex marriage.

Del. Emmett Burns, D-Baltimore County, confirmed Tuesday he received what he described as “a cautionary letter” from the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. The panel did not recommend further action.

Burns says he accepts the panel’s finding, and he says he never meant to infringe on First Amendment rights to try to silence linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who remained active on the issue.

Burns, a Baptist pastor, says he was representing many of his constituents by speaking out against same-sex marriage, which Maryland voters approved in November.

The letter is confidential. Burns declined to release it publicly.

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