CommunityPam's House Blend

Colts coach guest of honor at Indiana Family Institute dinner

[I just noticed that n8nyc had another diary up on this; it has a poll, so weigh in there.]

I guess Tony Dungy has no problem hobnobbing at the Daddy Dobson-approved Indiana Family Association “Friends of the Family” banquet that’s coming up on March 23. If you take a look at the invitation, you’d swear that the Indianapolis Colts organization endorsed this event.

Note that the invitation includes this — “An opportunity to financially support the Indiana Family Institute will be presented.”

Bilerico cries foul:

The IFI is one of the leading proponents of SJR7, the proposed Indiana Constitutional amendment on marriage rights,  and other legislative efforts to deny equal rights to LGBT folks.  Under the guise of protecting traditional family values, it helps spread misinformation that fosters bigitory toward our community and our own families.  Tony is undoubtedly a very fine father and devoted family man, and for that he deserves high praise.  His refusal to resort to shouting, cursing and other demeaning tactics many other NFL coaches use is extremely commendable.  And I think most in our community take pride in the fact that either he or his colleague Lovie Smith, coach of the Bears, will become the first African American coach in NFL history to win a Superbowl.

But Tony’s prominent appearance before this group, as a representative of a major sports institution in Indianapolis, sends a chilling message.  All of us shared the grief that Tony and his family experienced a year ago when his son took his own life.  I understand that stories about a connection to sexual orientation were unfounded, and I would defend Tony’s right to consider that a private matter.  Still, there is an irony many of us in the LGBT community know well:  The number of LGBT youth who have taken their lives because of self-hatred and homophobia is much above the national average.  Organizations of the IFI variety cannot escape the fruits of their helping to foster the myths and resulting bigotry which contribute to those grim statistics.  Surely Tony doesn’t in any way support that; so why is he lending his celebrity and role model status to such a group?

More after the jump.Interestingly, the IFI web site overall steers clear of the usual homophobic rhetoric of most of these “family-focused” sites, choosing to focus on how it can help strengthen marriages — using  a bible-based perspective, of course. But make no mistake, the shield comes down when look at its statement on hiring policies. The IFI took strong issue with the Governor Mitch Daniel’s addition of sexual orientation to the state’s anti-discrimination policies.

Throughout its 16 year history, the Indiana Family Institute has sought to bring Biblical values and Biblical ethics to the public policy making process in Indiana. To this end, we have opposed all efforts to create or advance special civil or legal rights for homosexuals. During Governor Daniels’ campaign and then in the first months of his Administration, we made our opposition to his desire to have an explicit, non-discrimination policy for one group of citizens – homosexuals – quite clear.

Our President, Curt Smith, who represented IFI in this private 45-minute meeting, twice asked the Governor to rescind his policy on gays during this frank and productive exchange. As he made this range of arguments, and as he discussed the matter with the Governor, the Governor continued to express an open mind even though he gave no indication that he was preparing to modify his position. It was our contention then, as it is now, that the Governor’s goal (non-discrimination) has been long fulfilled by past practices and his statements on the subject.

IFI believes if Indiana truly wants a non-discrimination policy that moves the State toward a merit workforce, it is therefore inappropriate to single out one group (homosexual state employees) as if to say, “And we really mean it about gays!” We are either a merit employment state for all workers, or we are not. Our belief and our contention with the Governor is that if he wants a merit shop there is no need to single out one group as he has with this policy statement.

Hat tip, Gordon.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding