My business partner and I were quoted in a few places over the weekend talking about Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy's March 20 appearance at a fundraiser for an anti-gay organization. Repeatedly, in columns and in our statements, we have said we support Dungy's right and ability to say what he believes about gay rights. In fact, we have begged him to say what he believes. Yet, Focus on the Family and other religious organizations who have quoted us claim that we're endorsing a boycott of the Colts. In a radio podcast for FOTF, the reporter, Steve Jordahl, says this:
"Now gay-rights advocates want Dungy to distance himself from his faith.... Cyd Zeigler of Outsports.com, one of the two groups behind the protest, says the coach shouldn't accept the award."
I never said I wanted Dungy to distance himself from his faith, and instead said he had the right to believe whatever he believes. I did not say there was a protest and I have not advocated a protest (except that I wish everyone would turn against the Colts because I can't STAND them, as a Patriots fan). And I did not say Dungy shouldn't accept the award.
But I can understand why the reporter made the leap - gay reactionaries have given him reason to jump to generalizations.
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that he believes homosexual sex is immoral. That is hardly a radical idea, but rather an idea that hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people have. Yet, HRC is out there saying that Pace should apologize for saying (and certainly the subtext is that he should apologize for thinking) what his personal beliefs are.
"General Pace’s comments were irresponsible, offensive and a slap in the face to the gay men and women who are currently serving their country with honor and bravery," said HRC's head divisive, Joe Solmonese.
Let's be clear about this. It is not Tim Hardaway saying "I hate gay people" and gay people don't belong in this world. It was a man explaining his personal belief system that has led to his support of a rule, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," that President Bill Clinton signed into law. I can understand how anyone would try to shed light on the subject of homosexuality and get this discriminatory law overturned. But this attack on Pace and demand for an apology is simply another ploy to raise money.
I hope Pace reconsiders his position. I hope, in the future, he opts to pass on answering the question. And I hope Clinton's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is finally overturned. But, Pace doesn't owe anyone an apology. His language was not hate speech, it was a revelation of his personal belief system (that anyone could have guessed anyway).
We'd be much better served if HRC reached out to Pace, offered to sit down with him, and talk about it.
If you're reading this, Gen. Pace, know that every gay person isn't screaming about what you said; We just hope you reconsider your position and consider the effect it is having on gay people.