Jake Tapper Gives Warm Welcome to Pro-Gay NFL Punter, Quotes His Letter to Supreme Court

At CNN, gay advocacy is not just reported on, but promoted. One day before the Supreme Court will announce its decisions on two cases about same-sex marriage – Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act – CNN's Jake Tapper hosted gay rights advocate and NFL punter Chris Kluwe for a glowing interview and touted his new book.

Tapper lauded Kluwe as a "record-breaking NFL punter" whose stand for same-sex marriage advocacy "became legend." He also quoted from Kluwe's letter to the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage.

Here was Tapper's glowing introduction:

"Chris Kluwe is a record-breaking NFL punter and until last fall, that was his claim to fame. And then Kluwe heard about a letter Maryland state delegate Emmett Burns wrote to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens criticizing one of the Ravens for supporting same-sex marriage. Kluwe's open-letter response became legend."

Tapper also used the upcoming Supreme Court decisions to promote Kluwe's book:

"Now with Supreme Court decisions on Proposition 8 and DOMA looming, Chris Kluwe is out with a new book where he explores his thoughts on gay marriage and more. It's called "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities."  

This isn't the first time CNN's welcomed Kluwe. He garnered sympathy from CNN's Carol Costello back in May when he was cut from the Minnesota Vikings. 

When Kluwe described professional athletes as largely "live-and-let-live" on the issue, Tapper pressed, "But, Chris, if that's true how come there are so few openly-gay and lesbian professional athletes, especially in the NFL?"

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on The Lead on June 25 at 4:55 p.m. EDT:

JAKE TAPPER: Welcome back. It is time for the "Lead Read." Chris Kluwe is a record-breaking NFL punter and until last fall, that was his claim to fame. And then Kluwe heard about a letter Maryland state delegate Emmett Burns wrote to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens criticizing one of the Ravens for supporting same-sex marriage. Kluwe's open-letter response became legend. I can't read most of it to you because Kluwe gets a little liberal with the obscenities, but this part gets his point across. He asks the delegate "Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you? How does gay marriage in any way, shape, or form affect your life?"

Now with Supreme Court decisions on Proposition 8 and DOMA looming, Chris Kluwe is out with a new book where he explores his thoughts on gay marriage and more. It's called "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities."  And he joins me now from New York. Chris, thanks so much for joining us.

CHRIS KLUWE: Yeah, thank you for having me on.

TAPPER: So this is a book of essays and letters. And I know part of the title comes from one of those essays where you've substituted nice terms for not-nice terms that you wrote to that Maryland delegate. in the letter. How did you specifically come up with "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies," which I know is a substitute for a narcissistic stain, of some sort. I'll just leave it at that. But how did you come up with "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies"?

KLUWE: I don't know. It just arose somewhere in a probably dank and recessed corner of my mind. And I went with it. It flowed well.

TAPPER: So now writing that letter, that open letter to Maryland state delegate Burns to defend another NFL player's right to support same-sex marriage, it started this whole chain of events that led to this book. A few of the book's essays talk about same-sex marriage, including a letter written to the Supreme Court justices on two cases we're going to likely hear decisions on tomorrow, the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8.

I want to read a part of the letter. "If you decide to overturn the appeal of Proposition 8, if you decide to uphold the tenets of the Defense of Marriage Act" – those would be two of the rulings against same-sex marriage – "a lot of professional athletes will take their cues from that and it will cause a ripple effect as even more people follow their role models, their leaders, their heros." Can you talk about what you think is professional athletes' general attitude toward same-sex marriage, and to gays and lesbians in general?

KLUWE: Well I think that the majority of professional athletes really don't care that much because they're younger guys, they've been raised in a society that's becoming more and more tolerant, and they don't understand why other people are being forced to live their life under someone else's rule. They don't get what the big deal is. And, you know, there are professional athletes who don't get it, just like there are people in society who don't get it. But I'd say the vast majority of professional athletes are pretty much live-and-let-live. If you let them go about their business, they're perfectly happy to let you go about yours.

TAPPER: But, Chris, if that's true how come there are so few openly-gay and lesbian professional athletes, especially in the NFL?

KLUWE: Well, it really is a generational issue and it's a societal issue. And the fact is, is that until someone takes that first step, until someone like Jason Collins comes out and shows that you can still play your sport and be openly-gay, then it's very hard for other people to risk losing that career. In professional athletics, I know in football the general average career is three-and-a-half years. And you're talking about millions of dollars worth of opportunity. And it can be very hard as a gay person to say I'm going to risk losing all of that because I don't have to. You know, I can hide myself for those three-and-a-half years and afterwards live my life. And that's a tough decision to make.

TAPPER: Alright, NFL punter and author Chris Kluwe, thank you so much.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014