MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - OCTOBER 23: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the national anthem prior to an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 23, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. | Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Kirk Cousins, the multi-year starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, recently appeared in a lengthy video talking about his journey as a Christian and expressing support for Focus On The Family, an organization that is rabidly anti-LGBTQ.

Focus On The Family is well-funded and opposes gay marriage, supports “professional therapy” on issues of orientation, as well as refusing to recognize transgender people, among other issues.

Cousins recently engaged in a public conversation with Ken Windebank, Chief Operating Officer for Focus On The Family, in regard to his faith and his commitment to marriage, as well as other topics.

Cousins’ comments didn’t specifically in-the-moment condemn transgender people or same-gender marriage, though his praise for the organization’s teachings (which include very clear anti-LGBTQ policy) and other comments leave room for questions that he refused to answer this week.

Both the Vikings and Cousins declined to answer Outsports’ questions for this story.

The Vikings, for their part, have established themselves as one of the most outwardly LGBTQ-inclusive teams in the NFL, with at least one publicly out employee, and various initiatives designed to explicitly support the LGBTQ community, including participation in Pride, a partnership with the local LGBTQ flag football league and other initiatives.

As an organization, the Vikings, despite Cousins’ support for Focus On The Family, remain supportive of the LGBTQ community.

What is Focus On The Family?

Focus On The Family is one of the most prominent anti-LGBTQ organizations in America, and it has been for quite some time.

The organization approves of sex and marriage only between a man and a woman.

The group also maintains that same-sex marriage is an anathema.

“Marriage is intended by God to be a thriving, lifelong relationship between a man and a woman enduring through trials, sickness, financial crises and emotional stresses,” Focus On The Family says on their website. “Christians are called to affirm and proclaim God’s marriage design and to minister in Christ’s name to those who suffer the consequences of its brokenness.”

Cousins affirmed his devotion to Christian teachings, even discussing his own marriage, though he did not mention same-sex marriage specifically.

I have been with my husband for over 20 years.

In that time, our partnership has helped each of us endure struggles involving finances, romance, partnership, career, love, friendship, communication and so many other elements of any relationship.

Yet Focus On The Family seems to say my marriage is all a fraud.

That is the organization that Cousins publicly supports.

Focus On The Family also seems to say transgender people either don’t exist or are somehow choosing to be who they are.

“We believe God created humans in His image, intentionally and immutably male and female, each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships.”

The group’s “Counseling for Sexual Identity Concerns” centers, for example, the idea that people with “same-sex attraction” face a “concern.” It seems to say that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are “suffering,” all while talking about “sin” and “personal wrongdoing.”

Does Cousins think that I’ve committed a “sin” by having sex with my husband? Am I “suffering”? Again, we don’t know.

Several years ago, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees claimed he had no idea Focus On The Family was anti-LGBTQ when he publicly supported the organization.

Millions of personal dollars, an NFL team infrastructure, as well as an agent and possibly a manager seemingly didn’t tell Brees — and possibly Cousins — the anti-LGBTQ focus of the organization.

Or maybe they did, and Cousins just didn’t care enough about the LGBTQ community.

A call to Focus On The Family

When Outsports called Focus On The Family’s hotline this week, we were told by the person on the hotline that repenting from a gay lifestyle was “a huge first step of courage,” and that “the devil wants to keep you dark and isolated.”

Because, according to Focus On The Family, being gay is apparently the work of “the devil.”

This is the organization that Cousins publicly supports: My relationship with my husband of 20 years is akin to “the devil.”

Who is Kirk Cousins?

Kirk Cousins was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by Washington. In 2018, the Vikings signed Cousins as their starting quarterback. He has found success with the Vikings, as the team has finished at least .500 in four of the five seasons with Cousins as a starting quarterback.

He’s a four-time Pro Bowl player and currently No. 24 in all-time passing yards in the NFL. That’s impressive.

He also has a winning record as a quarterback, though he’s started only four NFL Playoff games, posting a 1-3 record.

In college, he led the Michigan State Spartans to three bowl games in his three years as a starter, including a Big Ten championship in 2010.

He’s currently on injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon and not expected back on the field until 2024.

What is Kirk Cousins’ involvement with Focus On The Family?

Outsports was alerted to Cousins’ appearance with Focus On The Family by a Vikings fan.

“It doesn’t matter how innocuous the content in the video is,” the Vikings fan told Outsports. “Focus on the Family has consistently pushed for abhorrent policies and to enshrine their views into American law. For the Vikings’ franchise quarterback to partner with them is shocking, disappointing, and runs counter to the image the Vikings have tried to project.

“It also runs counter to Cousins’ public image, that of ‘all are welcome’. Focus on the Family has built their political arm on trying to drive people they don’t approve of out of American society.”

Cousins appeared in a public half-hour conversation with Windebank, which you can see in full here:

“You have to trust god’s plan for your life,” Cousins says at the outset of the video.

The problem with Cousins’ statement, on that stage with that organization, is that his hosts very publicly reject homosexuality, same-sex marriage and transgender people.

This isn’t the first time Cousins has flirted with anti-LGBTQ doctrine. Cousins previously said “Nobody’s perfect” when asked about a hypothetical gay teammate, saying he’d accept that gay teammate. He added that he would try to educate the gay player on what it means to follow Jesus, because apparently if you’re not doing it Cousins’ way, you’re not doing it right.

Of course, if Cousins was asked about supporting a straight, married teammate, he would never respond with “Nobody’s perfect.” Never.

If Cousins appeared on stage with an organization that opposed interracial marriage, you bet he and the Vikings would be eager to offer a statement, most likely: “Kirk Cousins is no longer a member of the Minnesota Vikings.”

What other NFL personalities have supported anti-LGBTQ organizations?

Cousins is not the first NFL player to publicly support an anti-LGBTQ Christian organization, and he won’t be the last.

Tony Dungy is the NFL godfather of anti-LGBTQ advocacy, as the Hall Of Famer has raised money to specifically support anti-gay groups and movements, and in 2023 was a mess.

Cousins is also not the only current NFL player outwardly supporting an anti-LGBTQ organization. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Trey Lance in 2021 supported Fellowship of Christian Athletes with his My Cause My Cleats. In 2022 it was Los Angeles Rams LB Christian Rozeboom. Both men have chosen other causes to support in 2023.

In 2020, three players supported the anti-LGBTQ Fellowship of Christian Athletes: Cody Davis, S, New England Patriots, Koda Martin, OL, Arizona Cardinals and Case Keenum, QB, Cleveland Browns.

What else did Cousins tell the Focus On The Family audience?

Cousins’ comments during his Focus On The Family appearance certainly need to be called into question.

For example:

“There are consequences to the choices you make in life. Good or bad. And if you sow good things you’ll reap good things. But if you sow poor decisions, you’ll reap poor decisions.”

Does Cousins believe my relationship with my husband is just a bad “choice”? Focus On The Family certainly does.

Cousins also made this pertinent observation about today’s Western culture diverging from what he believes are the teachings of his faith, referencing the teachings of one of his Focus On The Family mentors:

“He challenged us to understand that that meant following Jesus, even if it cost you something. So if culture goes this way and Jesus went this way, even if it cost you something. I’m going to be a fully devoted follower, even if it cost me something. I’m going to trust him and build my life on his truth.”

Outsports wanted to ask Cousins if that “truth” denied marriage between two men or two women, or the existence of trans people, given the teachings of Focus On The Family and the teacher he referenced in that quote, Ray Vander Laan.

Where do we go from here?

It’s not yet possible to figure out if Cousins is ignorant of the nationwide fight by Focus On The Family against LGBTQ equality, if he knew about it and just doesn’t care, or if he knew about these teachings and anti-LGBTQ advocacy and literally embraces all of it.

Those are literally the only three possibilities, neither of which is good.

For so many straight people, the issues of the LGBTQ community simply aren’t top-of-mind. They aren’t educated on these issues, and it’s possible Cousins missed them.

Though, if he did miss them, it’s important to ask the Vikings, the NFL league front office and the NFL Players Association why they aren’t doing a better job of making sure their players know what organizations have deeply anti-LGBTQ policies and statements of faith.

When will professional athletes in the NFL and other leagues stop promoting anti-LGBTQ Christian groups, and instead embrace our push for acceptance in sports? The hearts of many of them are there. We just need more athletes to step up and oppose homophobia and transphobia.

Until then, we’ll keep pointing out the Kirk Cousins of pro sports, who express love and support for organizations that reject and vilify my amazing husband and me.