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04/03/2009

Tony on Tony, both of whom are against Tonys being on Tonys

by Jeremy Hooper

Reacting to the news that former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy has been invited to join the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins offers up the following statement:

"I encourage him to consider serving in this role. Opponents of traditional marriage are seeking to disqualify Coach Dungy simply for believing that marriage is the union of one man and one woman which is a view shared by more than 80 percent of American Evangelicals. Their desire to exclude Tony Dungy from the Faith Council, based upon his religious convictions, provides further evidence of an effort to silence the Church. However, the Faith Council can only be truly reflective of the faith community by including such Christian leaders as Tony Dungy."
FRC Defends Tony Dungy's Selection to Obama's Faith-Based Council [PR Newswire via Yahoo!]

Oh, Tony (Perkins). We're not really trying to disqualify Tony (Dungy). We fully realize that in America, one's short-sighted views on marriage, or their belief that the Lord views gay couples in a lesser vision than their counterparts, rarely disqualifies that person from a particular position (unless it's with HRC or a bravo reality show). So this is not about vetting the man to see if he has the right to serve on this presidential council. No, no -- this is really about highlighting the man's hurtful, offensive, dehumanizing, queer-demonizing comments in order to mine a teachable moment out of this presidential invite.

By making note of this Dungy invite, we are hoping to instead move the conversation forward so that that supposed 80% of American evangelicals will start to think a little more critically about the civil affronts that they have inflicted because of their personal religious beliefs. We are keeping the church/state separation conversation alive, in hopes that even more people will look inside themselves and ask how they would feel if they were having their own fairness denied to them because of someone else's faith tenets. Also, we are trying to show that civil rights and human dignity are not zero sum games wherein every pro-equality mindset should be met with its gay-reluctant or gay-hostile counterpart. And we are doing this through the vehicle of Tony Dungy's invite, since he, an extremely vocal opponent of marriage equality who has used a wholly religious basis for supporting his views, ably highlights these crucial issues.

Will any of our efforts lead the Obama administration to reconsider this or any other future invite that they may choose to extend to a "pro-marriage" evangelical? No. Not in America in 2009, where gay bias is still seen in a different, more acceptable light from other biases. But a rescinded invite is not the point, at least for us. The point is progress, which is something that we're confident that will eventually arise from our reasoned, principled pushbacks against faith-based civil discrimination.

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