A scathing letter from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe to a Maryland delegate is going viral, with the profanity-laden missive criticizing the policymaker for trying to suppress a football player's free speech about gay marriage.
At the center of the controversy is Rev. Emmett Burns Jr., a Democrat from Baltimore County, who asked the owner of the Baltimore Ravens to silence linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo after he said he supports same-sex marriage rights.
"As a Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly and a Baltimore Ravens Football fan, I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo, would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically, as a Raven Football player," Burns Jr. wrote.
The letter claimed many Ravens fans were opposed to such a view and feel "it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement" before suggesting Ayanbadejo focus on football instead of "dividing the fan base."
"I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football Franchise Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions," the letter continued.
Kluwe wasn't happy about that demand from the delegate, telling FOX 9 News a request like that simply "isn't what America is about."
"He is using his position as an elected state official to try to stifle someone's free speech," Kluwe said. "To me, that's oppression."
In his letter, Kluwe wrote in part, "As I suspect you have not read the constitution, I would like to remind you, that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom."
Burns had finished his letter by saying he did not know of any other NFL player who had openly shared a favorable opinion of same-sex marriage, but Kluwe -- a social media savant who also supports same-sex marriage -- said the Vikings and his teammates have been supportive of him and his views.
So far, Kluwe's letter on Deadspin.com has over 1.7 million hits, and some have sent tweets to him to say his letter has changed their mind on the issue.
Kluwe 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. ... 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."
Burns did backtrack slightly, issuing an apology of sorts in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, saying, "Upon reflection, he has his First Amendment rights, and I have my First Amendment rights. Each of us has the right to speak our opinions. The football player and I have a right to speak our minds."