In an email to supporters, the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute said that Bears memorabilia to be auctioned off was donated in support of its anti-gay-marriage message, according to Equality Matters, a blog that is pro-LGBT.
"For now, you 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)," the email said, according to Equality Matters.
The Bears denied that the items — a signed black-and-white photo of Walter Payton and autographed Brian Urlacher jersey — were donated with a political message in mind, via Twitter:
"Items were personal donations; not from club. They don’t represent team view on any social issues. Any other remarks R false," the Bears official account — @ChicagoBears — Tweeted Wednesday.
Jennifer Morse, president and founder of the Ruth Institute, said the email's wording was a "mistake," and the Bears items are still in the auction.
"We shouldn’t have indicated that it came from the club because it didn’t," she said. "When we saw that, we said, 'wait, what happened?'...We straightened it out."
A post on the gala's page Thursday said the description of the memorabilia was incorrect and apologized for any confusion.
"Here's what the description should have said:...(both items were donated by individuals, not the team or the players)," the page said.
The Ruth Institute promotes marriage as a union between a man and a woman, according its website. The National Organization for Marriage says gay marriage is a "radical social experiment," and that opposing it protects children.
“Love is a great thing. But marriage isn’t just any kind of love; it’s the special love of husband and wife for each other and their children," the website says.