US: NFL player and gay rights advocate Chris Kluwe signs with new team

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Chris Kluwe, outspoken human rights campaigner and NFL punter, has announced that, after being dropped by the Minnesota Vikings last week, he has now been signed to the Oakland Raiders.

Kluwe announced this week that he had been dropped by the Minnesota Vikings, saying that “making people aware of an issue that is causing children to commit suicide is more important than kicking a leather ball.”

Many have questioned whether Kluwe being cut from the team was due to his performance on the field, or whether the team cut him because of attention drawn from his vocal support of gay rights issues, including equal marriage.

“I’m excited to be an Oakland Raider and be playing in California,” said Kluwe. The punter went to high school in Southern California, and went to UCLA. He said: “Now, my family can actually come to games.”

Suggesting that he would continue to campaign for equal rights, Kluew said: “I’m still going to be myself socially and continue to tweet and interact with my fans.”

Since Kluwe was dropped Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, who also signed the state’s equal marriage bill into law on Tuesday, said he felt uneasy about the situation, citing the team’s use of a fifth-round draft pick on UCLA punter Jeff Locke, and said that Kluwe should have been given the opportunity to fight for the position.

Speculation about why he was dropped came after fellow NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo, was dropped by the Baltimore Ravens. He appeared to suggest that the Ravens had dropped him because of his support for the US campaign for equal marriage, but he later clarified, saying that was not the case.

Chris Kluwe made the headlines in September when he defended Ayanbadejo, against a call from Delegate Emmett C Burns Jr, to reprimand Ayanbadejo, who recorded a video for a gay rights advocacy group In October 2011.

In a response to Burns, he wrote: “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 magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster.”

He and Ayanbadejo, wrote an amicus brief, and filed it, urging the Supreme Court to act against legislation preventing equal marriage.

Kluwe recently joined Michelle Obama, and thousands of others, in tweeting a message of support for the US’s first openly gay player in any major team sport, Jason Collins, of the NBA, who came out in a piece for Sports Illustrated magazine.

At the same time, he wrote an impassioned opinion piece in which he addresses the question of why, as a straight man, he supports the gay community.