Long a fighter for those he believes are not receiving equal protection under the law, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe agreed to pose in the current issue of OUT Magazine to make his advocacy on the subject of same-sex marriage more clear and more public.
"To me, this fight is about equality and human rights," Kluwe recently told CNN. "The fact is, there are Americans who pay taxes and serve in our military -- who defend this country -- who do not receive the same legal protections as the rest of us. To me, that's flat-out discrimination. That's the same as segregation or suffrage."
Kluwe has said that he is not gay, and that the subject is not what is important -- to him, this is about using his platform to help in a political sense and defining himself outside the confines of the football field.
"I've always relished breaking that stereotype of the dumb jock athlete because while I enjoyed athletics growing up, I also enjoyed reading and video games, and athletic sport is not what defines me as a person," Kluwe told OUT's Cyd Zeigler. "I think as more and more generations start rising through the NFL, a lot of these kids see that it's OK to be something other than an athlete."
"I will defend to the death your right to say or do whatever you want, as long as it does not oppress other people," he said assertively to CNN. Kluwe has backed that up, taking on what he believes to be the backward views of those in and out of the NFL. To Maryland pastor and political delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr., who recently wrote a letter to the Baltimore Ravens to try and stop linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo from speaking out on the same-sex marriage issue, Kluwe had this to say in a scathing letter published at Deadspin:
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children ... They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?
Kluwe also went off on Ravens center and former Vikings teammate Matt Birk, who has his own more conservative views on the subject.
Ultimately, while your letter is respectful and polite (and I've tried to keep mine the same way, no SPARKLEPONIES in this one), I remain unconvinced by any logical reasoning you have so far brought to bear on the subject. I encourage you to keep speaking out, as we should never be afraid to espouse our views, but from a rational standpoint I simply cannot agree with discrimination against a subset of our citizenry.
"I think there is a much more tolerant atmosphere in the NFL now," he told CNN, when asked if an openly gay player would be accepted in the league. "[But] until someone comes out, we never will know."
Kluwe has also said via his Twitter account that he's ready and willing to debate any Minnesota politician on the same-sex marriage issue. He recently sent 10 debate invitations to prominent local Republicans, and has not received a response.
"Citizens united -- corporations are not people," he told CNN. "And if you look at our current election, we're spending over a billion dollars to decide who our next president is going to be, and to me, that says that money has an overriding influence in our politics right now."
Well, welcome to the real world on that subject, Mr. Kluwe.
Kluwe, who admits that he is part of the "One Percent," also ways that he'd be perfectly willing to pay higher taxes to help eliminate the federal budget deficit.
"As long as I have my couch and my video games, I'm good to go. That's all I need, I mean, do you really need a diamond-encrusted yacht?"
There's no political future in Kluwe's life, the punter said -- he's merely reaching out to speak for those he feels are not properly represented.
"It shouldn't be news when someone speaks out for equality. It should be news when someone speaks out against it."
Whether you agree with Kluwe, and whether you think he's grandstanding, I hope the same people who used to bash Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods for staying quiet on social and political issues will at least give Kluwe the time of day when it comes to his various messages. He's a professional athlete, and at least he's speaking out -- unconventionally or not.
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