Dan Fagan’s recent op-ed about the left’s “assault” on Drew Brees and his affiliation with Focus on the Family, calling it a threat to religious liberty, is riddled with myopic partial truths.
Religious freedom is not being “threatened.” If anything, it’s stronger than ever with Donald Trump in office and after 2018’s Supreme Court ruling that favored Jack Phillips, a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, citing his Christian beliefs.
And critics of Brees aren’t upset by him talking about his Bible either, as Fagan implies. Many of us have Bibles, too. We read them every day. We’re upset that he chose to use his platform to help promote an anti-gay hate group masquerading as a Christian organization.
Fagan also downplays just how homophobic Focus on the Family is and ignores the pain it has inflicted upon LGBTQ individuals since its founding in 1977.
The organization opposes same-sex marriage, saying it will lead to the destruction of civilization, and is against adoption by same-sex couples, calling the children of LGBTQ parents “human guinea pigs.”
It also supports gay “conversion therapy,” a torturous practice that has driven countless LGBTQ people to suicide and has been widely discredited by medical professionals, including the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics. Since 2013, it has been outlawed in 18 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, with 14 more currently debating the issue, including traditionally red states like Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Focus on the Family also opposes anti-bullying groups in schools, claiming they promote homosexuality, and has lobbied for legislation that makes it legal to fire someone for being gay. It has falsely labeled transgender individuals “mentally ill” and called LGBTQ people “a particularly evil lie of Satan.”
If Fagan doesn’t think these things make an organization anti-gay, what possibly does?
Fagan asks, “Are organizations whose beliefs are Bible-based now off-limits for celebrities like Brees?” Of course not.
Brees is free to work with whatever organization he chooses. But that doesn’t mean he’s free of any consequences for doing so. Being a beloved local celebrity and NFL superstar doesn’t exempt him from negative press or criticism when his actions hurt an entire community of marginalized people and their allies.
And, yes, what he did does hurt us. Just ask Seth Dunlap, the openly gay host of WWL-AM Radio’s weeknight sports show "The Last Lap With Seth Dunlap,” who was called a humiliating gay slur this week by his station’s official Twitter account, which has over 30,000 followers, for an article he wrote criticizing Brees’ work with Focus on the Family. (The station apologized.)
Lastly, Fagan seems particularly hung up on the fact that just 11 years ago practically the entire country was opposed to same-sex marriage, including Barack Obama. Also happening 11 years ago: John McCain was still alive and running as the Republican nominee for president. Donald Trump was still hosting "The Apprentice." Conversion therapy was legal in all 50 states. And the iPhone 3G had just been introduced.
A lot can change in 11 years.
assistant editor, Queerty