Hello. My name is Chris Kluwe, and for eight years I was the punter for the Minnesota Vikings. In May 2013, the Vikings released me from the team. At the time, quite a few people asked me if I thought it was because of my recent activism for same-sex marriage rights, and I was very careful in how I answered the question. My answer, verbatim, was always, "I honestly don't know, because I'm not in those meetings with the coaches and administrative people."
This is a true answer. I honestly don't know if my activism was the reason I got fired.
However, I'm pretty confident it was.
Allow myself to tell you a story about ... myself. The following is a record of what happened to me during my 2012 season with the Minnesota Vikings, written down immediately after the 2013 draft in April, when I realized what was happening, and revised recently only for clarity. I tried to keep things as objective as possible, and anything you see in quotes are words that I directly recall being said to me.
This is a story about how actions have consequences, no matter how just or moral you think your cause happens to be, and it's a story about the price people all too often pay for speaking out.
Today, April 30, 2013, I am writing an account of events that transpired during my time with the Minnesota Vikings during the 2012 NFL season and leading into the 2013 season (so I don't forget them in case it is necessary to recall what happened).
During the summer of 2012, I was approached by a group called Minnesotans for Marriage Equality, which asked if I would be interested in helping defeat what was known as the Minnesota Gay Marriage Amendment. The proposed amendment would have defined marriage as "only a union of one man and one woman." (It was voted down, and same-sex marriage is now legal in Minnesota.) I said yes, but that I would have to clear it with the team first. After talking to the Vikings legal department, I was given the go-ahead to speak on the issue as long as I made it clear I was acting as a private citizen, not as a spokesman for the Vikings, which I felt was fair and complied with. I did several radio advertisements and a dinner appearance for Minnesotans for Marriage Equality. No one from the Vikings' legal department told me I was doing anything wrong or that I had to stop.
On Sept. 7, 2012, this website published a letter I had written to Maryland delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. chastising him for trampling the free-speech rights of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. The letter also detailed why I supported the rights of same-sex couples to get married. It quickly went viral.