It looks like there’s this shift occurring in the NFL right now,” said Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, talking about gay marriage. “As younger and younger generations are coming through, they’ve been raised to realize that this isn’t bad thing. It’s about equality. It’s about being able to lead your life free of oppression.”
Kluwe catapulted to public attention this month as one of a handful of pro-football players to speak out in favor of marriage equality when his hard-hitting open letter to a Maryland legislator went viral on the Internet. Maryland Delegate C. Emmett Burns had criticized Kluwe’s friend, Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayenbadejo, for advocating on behalf of marriage equality, and Kluwe wasn’t having any of it. (Listen to an interview with Kluwe below)
“I was buzzing the Internet and I noticed the story about the letter that Mr. Burns wrote to Brendon,” Kluwe recalled in an interview on my SiriusXM OutQ radio program. “I thought it was a really a crappy thing to do. I went to go to sleep, but as I was lying in bed I kept thinking about it. It kept running through my head over and over. I realized if it I didn’t get my thoughts down on this, I wouldn’t be able to get to sleep. So, I pulled out the laptop, typed down some words and phrases, threw it out to some guys at Deadspin I know. And, as they say, the rest is history.”
The letter excoriated Burns, who eventually backed off censoring Ayenbadejo for speaking out (though Burns has not changed his position on gay marriage).
"I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland's state government," Kluwe wrote Burns. "Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level."
A few fans criticized Kluwe not for his position on marriage or advocating his point of view -- he said there’s been very little of that -- but for his colorful language in the passionate letter.
“If you’re turned off by the swearing and the scatological reference or a genital mashup, then you’re not looking at the content of the message,” he explained. “And the difference between my letter and Mr.Burns’ letter is that, yeah, while my letter on the surface may seem shocking, what Mr. Burns did with his words was absolutely a disgrace to the English language, because he’s trying to use the English language to oppress someone else.”
Kluwe is now campaigning on behalf of a group called Minnesotans for Equality, urging voters to beat back a ballot initiative in Minnesota this fall that would ban marriage for gays and lesbians in the state constitution.
“Who are we to decide for our children and their children’s children, that this is a bad thing,” he said. “Being a good parent is raising your child and letting them make their own decisions. This is a human rights issue.”
Listen to the full interview below: