Chris Kluwe Quits St. Paul Pioneer Press Over Marriage Equality Amendment Editorial

11/03/2012 05:58 pm ET | Updated Nov 04, 2012

Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings punter and outspoken proponent of marriage equality, has resigned as a contributor to the St. Paul Pioneer Press in the wake of the paper's editorial on the upcoming vote on Amendment 1, which, if passed, will embed inequality into the Minnesota state constitution.

The Pioneer Press' editorial likely rankled Kluwe in two ways. The editors go to great pains to criticize proponents of marriage equality. But this was the more forgivable problem. More important is the fact that they made their case in the most punk-ass, nonsensical way possible.

"Minnesotans will decide how to vote on this issue," write the editors, who then add, "As has been the case with legislative races and the Voter ID amendment, the Pioneer Press is not endorsing one way or another."

Then, after attempting to affirm their neutrality, they proceed to throw more shade than a solar eclipse over supporters of same-sex marriage:

As it turns out, the debate isn't exactly about equal rights and privileges. Opponents of the measure are clear that they do not want to settle for a civil union status that would guarantee the same rights and privileges to same-sex unions that are given to traditional marriages. It is "marriage" that they want. In effect, a union by any other name is not as sweet. This insistence on "marriage" as opposed to rights and privileges seems to be about same-sex marriage being blessed by governmental endorsement. Both sides clearly want the government to be in the marriage business; the difference is in how it's defined. It's the principle of the thing. Some argue that as a practical matter there seems to be less interest by same-sex partners in actually being married than in redefining what marriage is. In Iowa, for instance, Wikipedia reports, that only 815 same-sex couples married in the first year after legalization.

Actually, the proponents of marriage equality explicitly want the government out of "the marriage business," because its current intrusion into that business is what's keeping same-sex couples from being able to say they are "married." The rest of this article is pure, mountain-grown, "coming from privilege" codswallop. If you want to know what it's like to have to "settle for civil union status," then you should imagine yourself in the position where the state tells you that you have to settle for civil union status.

Also, why does it matter, exactly that "only 815 same-sex couples married in the first year after legalization?" Cool Wikipedia citation though, guys! This is just some stellar research.

Perhaps the most telling argument for same-sex marriage is the "love is love" approach. But as persuasive as it is, the love is love argument brings the discussion back to what should be the definition marriage. Love may be love, but even now there are any number of prohibitions around marriage between consenting (heterosexual) adults. These prohibitions are intended to be in the interest of promoting the general welfare. It all comes back to the initial question of the definition of marriage as a means of promoting the general welfare.

But what are these "prohibitions around marriage between consenting (heterosexual) adults?" And to what extent have the proponents of marriage equality suggested that they aren't willing to abide by these same prohibitions? The editors either don't know, won't say, or are just doing a bunch of arm-waving to obfuscate the issue.

Again, the editors want you to know that they are totally weaselling out of taking a side, okay? But while they are on the topic, haven't the people who want to prevent same-sex marriage been a lot nicer? The editors are just sayin', y'all:

Finally, the vote no coalition has been careful to steer clear of any whiff of forcefulness. Their television ads rely on happily married traditional couples advising that for reasons of love you should vote no. They wisely have struck a gentle rather than strident tone. Yet, supporters of traditional marriage are not wrong to point out that religious groups who have refused to make their facilities available for same-sex couples have lost their state tax exemption and that religious groups have been forced to close their charitable adoption agencies as a result of having to choose between fulfilling their social mission and acquiescing to a new definition of marriage. And that whenever schools educate children about marriage they will have no choice but to teach it as a genderless institution. Indeed, some members of the movement are aggressive. In California, activists outed people who gave financial support to that state's marriage amendment, some of whom lost jobs as a result. And we saw it here in Minnesota when Target Corporation was subjected to extensive protests for having contributed to a gubernatorial candidate who supported traditional marriage. It did not matter that Target had a long record of support for the GLBT community or that its contribution had nothing to do with the definition of marriage. It was about sending a message that those who took the wrong position on marriage would pay a heavy price.

Yes, you know, that's one of the things that happens in participatory democracy -- you can boycott and pressure companies for taking political stands you don't like by criticizing them, or taking you custom elsewhere. And Target, contrary to the editors' claims, was never much of a supporter of the LGBT community. As Abe Sauer reported back in August of 2010:

The truth is not that Target and its leadership have suddenly turned on their commitment to gay rights. It's more that it never really existed to begin with. Further research shows that Target has funneled significant funding to the most socially conservative of Republicans and that it boasts a frightening culture of anti-gay candidate support from Target's own stable of top executives.

We have already noted that CEO Gregg Steinhafel and his wife both maxed out their personal contributions this year to Michele Bachmann and Tom Emmer. But Steinhafel is just the captain of the crew.

Target's current group of top corporate officers have supported a murderers row of anti-gay politicians. Even more confusing, some of those anti-gay candidates supported by Target's PAC and its executives don't even represent Minnesota.

Meanwhile, maybe the anti-marriage equality people are pursuing their craft with a smile on their face and a gentle song in their hearts, but they are nevertheless working very hard at enshrining discrimination into the state constitution, and from the perspective of those who stand to have their rights denied, the fact that their rights are being denied very politely doesn't really matter to them. It only seems to matter to the Wikipedia-reading, privilege-enabled editors of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Regardless, the salient point here is that the Pioneer Press' editors are completely misleading their readers, by pawning off this explicitly pro-amendment/anti-marriage equality editorial as the taking of a "neutral" position.

Kluwe was not the only Pioneer Press contributor to publicly criticize the editorial. MinnPost's David Brauer reports that the paper's business reporter Tom Webb also took issue with the editors, saying via Twitter: "The Pioneer Press I know values fairness and honesty. Its marriage editorial slights those values, and is unworthy of a fine newspaper."

Kluwe, over Twitter, announced that he will no longer contribute his "Out Of Bounds" blog to the paper. And it's not because the paper's editors disagree with him on the issue of marriage equality. It's because they are opposing marriage equality while pretending to take no position at all. In his statement, Kluwe writes:

Sent my email to the @PioneerPress informing them I will no longer contribute to their blog network. It will be my last post on the site. I will not be associated with any organization that tries to pull some bullshit like that. Have the strength of your convictions. Will post my last piece after walk through, and then it's time for Seattle. I'll look for a new blog site Monday and let you all know."

He later underscored the point (over the course of four tweets): "My main issue with the Pioneer Press editorial is this: It's a lie. I have no problem with them taking a position I disagree with. What concerns me is them presenting a completely biased piece (word choice, examples used, conclusions) as a neutral position. That's not only irresponsible journalism, it's massively hypocritical. Have the courage of your convictions. Attach your name to what you believe in. Don't try to confuse people through obfuscation and selected presentation of arguments. It ruins discussion, and you should be ashamed."

The current top post on Kluwe's soon-to-be-shuttered blog, which supports voting against the amendment, begins like this: "It’s often wise to take a moment to think things over, especially when making momentous decisions." The editors of the St. Paul Pioneer Press should have done so before they published their cowardly, deceptive nonsense.

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