Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dungy Uses Speech To Tout Gay Marriage Ban

Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy used a speech before the Indiana Family Institute's annual dinner at which he was bestowed an honor to express his support for a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and other legal incidents of marriage for unmarried couples. The Star's Robert King writes:

Colts coach Tony Dungy said he knows some people would prefer him to steer clear of the gay marriage debate, but he used a speech Tuesday night to clearly stake out his position.

Dungy told more than 700 people at the Indiana Family Institute's banquet that he agrees with that organization's position supporting a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

"I appreciate the stance they're taking, and I embrace that stance," Dungy said.

Dungy's comments came in the final three minutes of a wide-ranging, 20-minute speech that recounted stories from the Colts' Super Bowl run, related his interest in prison ministry and described how he wondered whether his firing in Tampa was God's signal for him to leave football and enter ministry. He also talked about his efforts to make the Colts more family-friendly by encouraging players to bring their kids to practice.

Local and national gay-rights organizations had criticized Dungy for accepting the invitation to appear at the banquet. The institute, affiliated with Focus on the Family, has been one of the leading supporters of the marriage amendment.

"IFI is saying what the Lord says," Dungy said. "You can take that and make your decision on which way you want to be. I'm on the Lord's side."

The coach said his comments shouldn't be taken as gay bashing, but rather his views on the matter as he sees them from a perspective of faith.

"We're not anti- anything else. We're not trying to downgrade anyone else. But we're trying to promote the family -- family values the Lord's way," Dungy said.

Coach Dungy may say he's not gay bashing, but the past actions of the IFI, the American Family Association and Advance America, the leading Christian right groups pushing this ban in Indiana, have repeatedly engaged in gay bashing efforts to defeat any attempts to provide equal rights for gays and lesbians. And the amendment, which goes beyond a mere ban on same-sex marriages, is nothing short of an attempt to permanently enshrine second-class status for gays and lesbians. I share Bil Browning's reaction to the Star, indicating his surprise Dungy chose to wade into the issue. "It is unfortunate that coach Dungy has chosen to align himself with the Indiana Family Institute," Browning said. "The Colts were supported this season by all of their fans -- gay and straight."

In a new development, one of Indiana's oldest and largest major employers, Cummins, has announced its opposition to SJR-7. The Star reports:

No private employers testified against a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage when it was before the Senate, but that will change when discussion begins today in the House.

Cummins Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tim Solso has sent a letter to House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, encouraging him to oppose the amendment.

In his letter, Solso told Bauer that that the amendment would hurt Cummins' ability to attract the best employees.

"Anything that makes Indiana a less inclusive and less welcoming place for our current and future employees is bad for our business -- and bad for the state," Solso wrote.

The diesel-engine maker was one of the first major employers in the state to offer domestic-partner benefits. Solso told Bauer the amendment's vague language could affect his company's ability to continue to offer the benefits.

Mark Land, a spokesman for Cummins, said a human resources representative will testify against the proposed amendment before the House Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee this morning.

The Star's Bill Ruthhart also previews the House committee hearing on SJR-7 scheduled for this morning. Ruthhart devotes a substantial part of his article on the question of amending SJR-7 and whether it would result in restarting the process. As it turns out, Sen. Brandt Hershman disagrees with the legal opinions House Speaker Bauer has been offered that an amendment which struck only the second paragraph of SJR-7 would not prevent the remaining language defining marriage as between one man and one woman from going before voters in 2008. Ruthhart writes:

"There's no other way to deal with this matter except straight up," said Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who chairs the committee. "We need to conduct a hearing, take testimony and . . . hear a diversity of viewpoints."

Pelath can expect just that in a debate over the amendment's second sentence, which opponents have said could lead to lawsuits challenging the legality of domestic-partner benefits offered by the state's public universities and other public employers.

Foes of the ban also say it could jeopardize the protections afforded unmarried women under the state's domestic violence laws.

The amendment's first sentence defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman. The second states that neither the constitution nor state law can bestow "the legal incidents of marriage" to "unmarried couples or groups."

Opponents have characterized that language as vague with uncertain consequences -- and House Democrats appear to be listening.

Bauer said he's open to changing the amendment's language, but "only for the purpose of the problems with the second half, only if it's done by the committee process, and only if the people from the corporations and the universities show up and competently present their case."

Any change in the amendment's wording could stall the process.

Constitutional amendments must be passed by two separately elected legislatures before being approved by voters in a general election.

The amendment's author, Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield, has maintained that if any of the proposal's language is changed, the process likely would have to be delayed two years and the amendment would have to be passed by another General Assembly.

Bauer, though, has suggested that even if the amendment's second sentence is removed, the first sentence still could move on to voters if passed this session.

"Every lawyer you meet will have a different opinion on this. A few that I've met have said that if similar language, like the first part, is passed, then that similar language is still eligible (to be placed on the ballot)," Bauer said. "I think that might be the case, but we'll see."

Hershman said he's found no consistent legal opinion supporting Bauer's theory.
He said if the House tried to push only the first portion of the amendment to the ballot, opponents could immediately challenge the move with a lawsuit.

What's more, Hershman said, if the second sentence is removed, the amendment's intent would be undercut.

The second part, he said, is designed to keep judges from circumventing the definition of marriage by establishing civil unions that also carry the benefits of marriage.

"If we simply said marriage is between a man and a woman, it would not prevent courts from finding a creative way around this," Hershman said.

"It is very clear that any vote to amend this language will be a vote to kill this amendment and take it out of the hands of the voters to decide, nothing less."

Bauer has said he will let the "process run its course."

Okay, so we finally get an admission from Sen. Hershman that SJR-7 is written to deny the possibility of civil unions in Indiana. Recently, proponents have denied even this claim. If it blocks civil unions, it's fair to ask if it also blocks domestic partner benefits or any other potential benefits which are premised upon a relationship between same-sex partners. What he doesn't explain, however, is that SJR-7 is binding on future legislative enactments by the General Assembly and not just the courts as he suggests. The good news is Rep. Scott Pelath is promising a hearing open to hearing all viewpoints today. "People have very strong feelings about this, and I think the committee should take its time and fully understand the issues," Pelath said. "To the extent that people have concerns about parts of the amendment, whether it be from the business community or somewhere else, the time for them to speak up is now."


Anonymous said...

Why get bent out of shape over the postition of a jock? It's just his opinion, nothing more.

Anonymous said...

Anon 643, the problem is, our messed up society places a great deal of value on what sport "heros" (cough) and celebrities say. Lots of people will listen to Dungy.

Look at all the Dem's who run around with all of Hollywood folk. In reality, an actor or actress is just someone who can spit out lines with some feeling but are granted some sort of platform when they open their mouth on any issue. Why is their thoughts more important than mine (or yours)?

Anonymous said...

How is the one-sided propaganda pushed by the majority of Hollywood's A-list any different than Coach Dungy speaking out for what he believes. For a group so hell bent on tolerance, you sure are quick to jump all over those who don't agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Gary (and others),

I have noted in previous posts that I have had and still have several friends who are gay. Yet, I disagree with the gay community's attempts to redefine marriage and am supportive of the amendment.

As I fully expect from this post as well, those previous posts have been met with skepticism of my words and with attacks on my personality. Yet, because I remain anonymous, it is really not possible for those respondents to be characterizing me in the way that they do.

For people like Dungy, who have made public comments on this issue, the hypocrisy of your response is just really overwhelming. You and many other opponents continue to portray Dungy and others as "hateful," "gay bashing" and more. While Dungy hasn't felt this wrath (yet), the typical responses include comparisons to Hitler, Nazis and more.

Yet, despite your claims to the contrary, I have yet to see one single communication or one single comment from IFI, AFA or any others in this debate that compares in any way whatsoever to the genuine hate espoused by you and other opponents.

Frankly, you do not help your cause by this approach. All that it does is to harden those who already opposed you already. And to those of us who have tried earnestly to hear both sides, your personal attacks are making it more and more difficult to take your thoughts with any seriousness.

So go ahead and bash away, as seems to be the only pattern that I have experienced in this debate. Some day, however, I do think you will look back on these days and will realize that your actions have worked more against you than they have for you.

Jay C. Howard said...

If you support SJR-7, you must not think much of the relationships of your gay friends. Is the love between two hetereosexuals better than the love between two women or two men? If you think that heterosexual love IS better, than you ARE a bigot. Put yourself in the shoes of the GLBT community and you might see where the anger comes from.

GLBT couples want equal rights under that law, not special rights. Telling law-abiding, tax-paying citizens they are second-class citizens because they are who they are is a form of hate.

It was no different in the 60's when churches and whites told blacks they were second-class, and it's no different now when the SAME groups are telling gays to sit at the back of the bus.

Anonymous said...

mgI can like my friends who are gay and still not approve of their efforts to redefine marriage. The two are not absolutely bound. I also have had friends who are alcoholics and drug addicts. Some of them came to those points as the result of strong family histories. Yet, I liked them nonetheless. I also have lots of friends from other political parties. I disagree with many of their public policy positions, some of which are directly related to their personal circumstances. But I still like them and get along with them.

Of course, it is YOUR hate that blinds you to such possibilities. And it is YOUR hate that blinds you from any rational discussion of these issues.

So go right ahead and let the bashing begin again. There are very reasonable questions in this debate that cannot be dismissed by your hateful characterizations of those who disagree with you. But do what you will. That's what you want anyway, isn't it? And when you're done, go re-read the last paragraph from 11:47.

Anonymous said...

The real quetion is, anonymous, why the heck do your gay friends hang out with a homophobe like you? Believe me, if you were my "friend" you'd be kicked to the curb. I don't believe for a second you actually know anyone gay, because they wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) tolerate you treating them like sub-human beings.

braingirl said...

While folks on both side have become caught up in the morality of SJR-7, *finally* we're looking at the business impact. Thank goodness for Cummins. Now, if more companies -- Hello, Lilly! -- will come out against it, we'll remind everyone that these anti-diversity issues hurt the state economically.

Anonymous said...

Well, 11:47, I can give you a few of reasons why the other side of this debate doesn't react the way some of us do:

1. If Mrs. Dungy is hospitalized, Tony doesn't have to agonize in the waiting room, prohibited by privacy laws to be with her and hold her hand while she suffers.

2. If Tony passes before Mrs. Dungy does, Mrs. Dungy doesn't lose the house and have to fight with Tony's parents over all of the rest of the stuff.

3. Mr. and Mrs. Dungy don't lie awake at night worrying that their parental rights might be stripped by hateful legislation that is introduced in the Indiana State Legistlature every single session.

4. The Dungy's do not endure Queers yelling "F**ing breeders" and other hetorsexual epithets at them when they leave their favorite restaurants.

5. When the Dungy's kids were younger, their playmate's parents did not forbid their children from visiting the Dungy's house, God knows what goes on in the homes of people like that.

Do you want me to keep going? How about if I attack YOUR family and YOUR dignity?

Anonymous said...

So, now we're resorting to the tactics of our opponents on this issue? Broad-brushing with ease, and kicking friends to the curb if they don't pass the litmus test? Sch shrillness draws no converts to our cause.

I'll not stop trying to convince my non-believing friends, but I won't be so shallow as to disown them over this issue alone. My God would not approve of that. My faith won't let me do it.

I'm a gay Christian who solidly opposes this hateful, Christian-based amendment. For multiple reasons. Tony Dungy supports it because he's Christian and he believes it's God's will. If he were my friend, I'd focus my arguments to him on the last post, and tell him that he and Mrs. Dungy have nothing to worry about regarding their future, thanks to Indiana law. I cannot say the same.

But if he were my friend before the SJR7 discussion, he'd not get the curb-kick.

The sooner we stop grouping everyone together, just like Eric Miller's folks constantly do, the closer Tony and his followers might listen to our arguments like the one just before this post. Solid stuff.

Let's stay focused on the facts. They are solidly on our side.

Anonymous said...

12:46 said:

It was no different in the 60's when churches and whites told blacks they were second-class, and it's no different now when the SAME groups are telling gays to sit at the back of the bus.

Please do not compare the gay rights/marriage issue to the Civil Rights Movement to obtain equlaity under the law for African-Americans, a minority group disenfranchised in this country for more than 400 years - and still catching hell today.

The level field remains unequal in many aspect for the descendants of African slaves generations later. This country was built in large part on the back of involuntary servitude.

Anonymous said...

Nuvo recently profiled a newly-elected Republican state representative, Jon Elrod, who expressed what I consider the most sensible perspective on this whole defense of traditional marriage thing: "When you really think about it, the reason most people have issues with gay marriage is the religious connotation . . . you really can't separate that term, 'marriage,' from its religious connotations . . .My stance has been that the state shouldn't be defining marriage, because its a religious thing. There should only be civil unions, and they should be granted irrespective of gender." It will be interesting to see if young Rep. Elrod continues to maintain this rather libertarian viewpoint after Brian Bosma, Eric Miller, et. al., have had at him for a few months.

Speaking of Eric Miller and like-minded bloviators from the far right of Christendom, we need to remind folks that marriage amendment supporters have lied through their teeth in other states, and should be expected to do the same here. I think it's sometimes called "lying for God"--which is another way of saying that the ends justify the means. Case in point: leaders of "family values" groups promoting Michigan's more hateful amendment convinced voters it was not intended to deny domestic partner benefits voluntarily extended by public or private employers. (Sound familiar?) But, once voters had approved the amendment, guess which organizations then filed suit to terminate the benefits offered by state-supported universities?

As for Coach Dungy, I agree with a view expressed several days ago in this blog that attacking the coach over this issue "will not win any public support for gay rights." The coach is, I'm sure, a good and decent man who is being faithful to what he believes. Unlike the James Dobsons and Eric Millers and Ted Haggards, Coach Dungy will reap neither power nor wealth from the support he has given to their cause. Better, if you happen to be a Believer, to "say a prayer for Tony" that he might someday come to understand that (except perhaps for Rev. Haggard) being gay or lesbian is most often NOT the "lifestyle choice" the religious right insists it is.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested in sending the Colts an email here is the link:

Here is what I sent:

My family and I have been Colts fans for a long time but after Tony Dungy's public remarks against same-sex families during a speech he gave at the Indiana Family Institute, we will no longer be supporting the Colts.

Unfortunately, discriminatory comments made in public by Mr. Dungy do reflect on the Colts. He is in a high profile position and every time he appears in public people associate him with the Colts. Children look up to Mr. Dungy as a role model and I do not want my children being taught "hate".

Do you actually think that you do not have any gay players on your team? What message is that sending to them or perspective top players across the country who may also be gay? Good luck on your recruiting efforts.

I will also be expressing my views on this other Colts fans I know.