I trust that there are some sports fans among the readers of EFM and that many of you know and respect Tony Dungy, the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. I’ve long admired Dungy, a man with a strong, public Christian faith. Like much of the rest of the country, I came to respect him even more after he handled the tragic death of his son last year with incredible grace. Then this year he reached the pinnacle of his profession with a Super Bowl championship. A great story of redemption.
My admiration for Dungy grew last week when he publicly supported Indiana’s proposed gay-marriage ban, a stance that created a bit of a media firestorm.
Here’s what he said:
I appreciate the stance they’re taking, and I embrace that stance.
We’re not trying to downgrade anyone else. But we’re trying to promote the family – family values the Lord’s way.
Dungy has taken criticism from the usual suspects with the most troubling piece coming from the AP. In it, the writer said “Dungy is not the first public figure to draw fire for anti-gay comments.” He continued:
Former NBA star Tim Hardaway apologized twice after responding to a question about his reaction to a gay teammate by saying “I hate gay people.” Actor Isaiah Washington, of the hit television show “Grey’s Anatomy,” sought counseling after using a gay slur when he referred to another cast member. Author-columnist Ann Coulter was chastised for repeating the slur when referring to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards during a speech to a conservative group.
To recap: Opposition to gay-marriage lumps you together with a man who said he hates gay people and two other people who publicly used the term “faggot” to refer to gays.
This is conflation at its worst, and it seems to me to fit nicely into a political agenda.
What does this have to do with presidential politics? Well, I think it helps to explain the criticism Governor Romney received when it was revealed that he doesn’t believe gays should be discriminated against–and yet also believes that gays should not be allowed to marry. This remains a very difficult concept for many to understand, including, it appears, sportswriters for the world’s largest wire service. It reminded me that we need to do a better job explaining how our opposition to gay-marriage is grounded in concern for the family and not hatred of gays. Governor Romney is the right man to make that case.