BOISE -- Representative Lawerence Denney says recent controversy over comments made by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson will not deter him from bringing the reality stars to the Idaho Center in March for a fundraiser for his campaign for Secretary of State. The comments in question deal primarily with Robertson's view of homosexuality.
Robertson suspended from the show over comments in GQ
Robertson has been suspended by the A&E network over his comments. For an example of the comments people are speaking out about from the article, Robertson is asked: "What, in your mind, is sinful?"
The Duck Dynasty star responded: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
Denney spoke with KTVB on Friday, and he pointed to other parts of the article where Robertson talks about loving everyone and letting God judge.
To that point, part of the article quotes Robertson saying: "We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job. We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus - whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later, you see what I'm saying?"
Though religious discussion makes up a large portion of the article, parts of the article also talk about the Robertson family's love for the outdoors, their duck call business and hunting.
Rep. Denney continues support for family and expanded his invitation to Idaho
Denny says he continues his support for the Robertson family and that Robertson expressed his religious viewpoint in an article published in January's edition of GQ.
"Our family proudly stands in support of the Robertson family in its' modeling and expression of our Christian family values and heritage. We expressed that support when we spoke to the Robertson family yesterday," Denney said.
Denney says he supports their 1st Amendment right to speak freely about religion of their choosing. Further, he supports the viewpoints expressed overall by the family. KTVB asked him about the controversy surrounding the article.
"I think there is a standard in the country now of political correctness, and certainly what Phil said was probably outside that political correctness, but at the same time that's his belief, and certainly that's my belief, and he's entitled to it," Denney said.
In his conversation with the Robertsons, Denney says he has since invited their whole family, though he doesn't expect they would all end up on the March visit to Idaho.
Nampa's mayor: 'I hope the Idaho Center is packed out to support Duck Dynasty'
On Friday afternoon, KTVB asked Nampa Mayor Tom Dale for his take on the Robertson visit. The Idaho Center is owned by the City of Nampa.
"Oh, he better come! This is a community that supports his moral and spiritual philosophy," Dale said. "For any news media to come out and say they're going to criticize or condemn somebody for expressing their personal religious and moral belief is totally beyond the realm of what we should expect in a country like the United states."
Dale said he has a personal conflict on the day of the scheduled visit, but he wants to see a high turnout.
"I hope that Idaho Center is packed out to support Duck Dynasty!" Dale said.
Gay rights activist: Not surprised by the comments, but shocked by response
Minerva Jayne has been involved with a number of projects around the Treasure Valley to support gay rights and is a native Idahoan. She said she wasn't surprised Robertson had his particular views, but found them misguided. More shocking to her has been the response she's seen on social media.
"I've been most suprised by how willing people have been to overlook what he's actually saying because they like him, and they like the show," she said. "I've seen friends on social media and on facebook, people, some of them I've known for years, some of them I've known since childhood, come out in defense of his views simply stating that oh, he's old school so it's okay. Well, no it's not okay."
She says it's been disheartening to see some of those comments. When asked about Robertson coming to her home state, Minerva Jayne says she would love to meet the Duck Dynasty patriarch.
"He's welcome to come to Idaho. I'd love to sit down with him and have a drink and talk about our different points of view, actually," she said. "I've lived in Idaho my whole life, and there isn't a point of view I experienced on the issue. I just think what he needs is perhaps to actually know somebody who's had the struggle and had to grow up with it and be in violent altercations and live with the reality of hate on a daily basis, as I have growing up."
ACLU of Idaho: Disagrees with comments, but agrees with the ability to make them
Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho Monica Hopkins said with the organization's support for the LGBTQ community, they obviously disagree with Robertson's comments. On the other hand, Hopkins says from a free speech perspective, they support the ability for Robertson to make his comments.
"The ACLU works on LGBT equality as a fundamental fairness issue under the Constitution, so some of the comments that were made, of course we disagree with fundamentally and as issues of policy. However, really the lens in which we look at this issue is through a 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech issue," Hopkins said. "So do people have a right to espouse their views? Yes, they do, fundamentally. And they can continue espousing those views. What was expressed is how a segment of the population may feel, and we feel that it is not a right to censor those views or that speech. Actually the way you combat those thoughts is with more speech."
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To read the entire GQ article, click here.