Thanks to Big House Dawg for passing this story along from BeyondChron, an alternative publication in San Francisco:
Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy will be the honored guest at the March 20, 2007 annual banquet of the Indiana Family Institute (IFI), the state’s leading lobbying force against gay rights. The IFI prides itself on its sixteen-year history of “opposing all efforts to create or advance special civil or legal rights for homosexuals.” The IFI is closely aligned with Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, an anti-gay organization of long standing. On the Hoosier Family website, Dungy is prominently pictured in his Colts cap and jacket---confirming the team’s willingness to align with the IFI and giving supporters of gay rights reason to root for the Chicago Bears in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Virtually every article about Colts coach Tony Dungy praises him as a devoted family man of deep religious values. But Dungy’s values do not extend to tolerance for gays, which is why he will be the honored guest for Indiana’s leading anti-gay political organization."
The IFI is a leading proponent of SJR7, the proposed Indiana Constitutional amendment on marriage rights, and other legislative efforts to deny equal rights to LGBT folks. While claiming to protect “family values,” it promotes measures that undermine gay families and the broader LGBT community.
Here's what IFI's website has to say, in part:
The enemies of SJR 7 are far more dangerous than the media and even most Christians realize. They not only want to destroy marriage and create a society free from any and all sexual boundaries, they will spare no effort to attain their ultimate goal of silencing all those who oppose them. You need only look at Canada and Sweden for the logical conclusion of their "this is our right" mentality. In those countries, citizens who speak out against the homosexual agenda are being charged with "hate speech" crimes and threatened with fines and jail time.
Homosexual activists here in Indiana are using the same game plan as was used in those countries. Promoting marriage as defined in scripture is at odds with the views of these radicals. Thus, they define such ideas as "hate speech" and attempt to punish those who oppose them through the law. The Left embraces these activists, but we must strongly oppose them; for we may lose even more than marriage if we fail.
Yesterday, AOL Fanhouse ran a brief blurb on Dungy's involvement with the organization and received a bunch of comments, which I can't bring myself to read just now. Obviously, I'll keep my eyes and ears open for any traction this story gets among the hordes of media in Miami. But, needless to say, I find this, if not surprising, nevertheless dismaying. Such attitudes are common enough among sports personalities, and football is surely the most conservative of the major team sporting cultures. And, there is clearly a common link between the kinds of religious professions that Dungy makes and this sort of homophobia.
But, to hear Dungy talk proudly about what he's had to overcome as an African American, including the deep-seated prejudices that confronted him as he was growing up and then to turn around and lend his voice to an organization spewing similar kinds of hate-filled rhetoric - well it just begs the question in my mind: how does he reconcile these things? I know how he might answer, by reference to the bible, and God, and deeply held religious beliefs. But, there's no way to read James Dobson as anything other than bigoted and hate-filled, and plenty of racists have justified their own anti-Black sentiments down through the ages by reference to their own deeply held beliefs about God's intent, etc.
Now, as far as I know, Dungy has not made any public pronouncements on the subject, and certainly hasn't pulled a Reggie White. But, headlining an event is itself an inescapably clear statement.
I suspect most sports media, if they cover this at all (and obviously some will agree with him), would draw a bright line between Dungy's presumed beliefs on this issue and his character more generally. That, itself, is morally dubious. But, what's most important to keep in mind here is that no one talks more politely to the media than Tony Dungy, and that's the true test of character.