Well, you know the rest of that story. As many companies – public and private …profit and non-profit alike – are creating more diverse workplaces, that trend seems to be slow to creep into sports organizations at the same rate. In athletics, the same ol’ status quo is present. Chris Kluwe has seemingly been blackballed for his outspoken views and unwavering support for marriage equality and the equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
Kluwe has make several public appearances and participated in interviews (most recently with Deadspin, an LGBT advocacy media network), in which he supported equal rights for everyone, including the rights of the LGBT community. His employer, the Minnesota Vikings where as punter he consistently placed in the number one or number two category and gave the team no reason to question his abilities or performance. But he was cut from the team, unquestionably due to his advocacy.
All reports on this topic points to nothing more than his position on marriage equality as the reason for the Vikings cutting him from the team. The part of the saga that bothers me most is the fact that he received authorization from the team before agreeing to be an advocate. Then afterwards, the team management began warning him to hold back and “stop speaking out on this stuff,” as indicated in the Deadspin report, referring to his support of same-sex marriage. He was fired because he agreed to help an organization known as the Minnesotans for Marriage Equality that was fighting to stop an amendment that would have blocked same-sex marriage. Kluwe followed the proper protocol, got approval from the team, securing a thumbs up from the team’s legal department and everything seemed alright. Incidentally, same-sex marriage became codified in Minnesota in August, 2013. Kluwe was not only fired, but he has yet to find another team to take him. He’s calling for an investigation into the firing, alleging wrongful termination.
He’s not the first. You may recall Brendon Ayanbadejo made headlines for the same sort of thing. Ayanbadejo is a former Baltimore Ravens linebacker who was released from the team for his LGBT advocacy. He also was seemingly blackballed like Kluwe.
Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has shown support for gay NFL players, promoting inclusiveness by saying that everyone must be “not only tolerant but acceptant” of the beliefs and lives of others, the lingering biases and discriminatory practices still linger.
The more things change, the more they stay the same!