Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, in a cover-story interview with a leading national magazine aimed at a gay audience, turns to the Bible to explain why he has made himself one of the first professional athletes voicing support for gay marriage.

In the newly released issue of Out, which includes beefcake-style pictures of the 30-year-old native Southern Californian, Kluwe said: "It's all about the Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be treated. It's that simple. It's something that needs to be spoken about, and it's something I can do while fulfilling my job as a football player."

Kluwe told the magazine that while growing up he was like many other youngsters who never gave a second thought to using gay slurs.

"Unfortunately, as kids, sometimes you don't understand what your words can mean because you're not emotionally mature enough," he said. "As you grow up and start learning about the world you realize, Hey, some of this stuff is hurtful."

Kluwe joined the debate about gay marriage in early September, when he published a scorching letter on the sports website Deadspin, lambasting Maryland state legislator Emmett C. Burns Jr. for criticizing a Baltimore Ravens player's vocal support of gay marriage.

"Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level," he wrote, in a letter that received national attention.

Kluwe appears on the cover, gazing away straight-faced from the camera lens, a towel around his bare neck and shoulders.

The photos inside show him in jeans that barely hang on to his hips, shirtless in one reclining pose, and open-shirted in another and positioned to toss a football.

Citizens in the home state of the Vikings will vote Nov. 6 on whether the state Constitution should be amended to say that marriage is solely between a man and a woman.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482