By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com January 06 2014 4:07 PM ET
Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says his claims that he was let go from the position due to his support of marriage equality should be taken seriously, especially because he has witnesses who can corroborate that there was hostile environment on the team.
Kluwe called Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer a "bigot" and said Priefer created a homophobic locker room environment by using antigay slurs after Kluwe began speaking out in support of marriage equality in 2012. Kluwe also called former coach Leslie Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman cowards for allowing this to persist.
"I'm glad they're taking it seriously," he told USA Today on Friday. "This is something I wrote down, because it's what happened to me, and I'm 100 percent confident in what I wrote, and there are witnesses that will back me up."
Kluwe said he has no forensic evidence of such a hostile environment, nor is he willing to name players he considers to be witnesses unless it is absolutely necessary.
Priefer has denied such claims, but an investigation is under way while Priefer remains employed. The Vikings hired former Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Chris Madel to lead the investigation. Both are partners at the law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller, and Ciresi.
"This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity," Vikings vice president Kevin Warren said in the statement.
State senator Scott Dibble sent a letter to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf Friday, saying the team must be accountable for these actions.
"Minnesotans are not only lifelong fans of the Vikings, its taxpayers are also business partners with the franchise," he wrote. "Because Minnesotans gave the Vikings a half billion dollars for its new stadium, it is incumbent upon your organization to uphold the same values for fairness, tolerance, and equality that we hold dear in our state."
According to Dibble, the Wilf Family Foundation has worked with Garden State Equality to mitigate antigay bullying in New Jersey.