There has been some amount of comment over the fact that Tony Dungy elected to appear at a fund raiser for the Indiana Family Institute, an organization that promotes legal bans on same sex marriage.
He has come under some criticism by people who have accused him of, among other things, wanting to deny 'basic civil rights' to a group of people. Some observations:
1. Tony, and all US citizens, have a basic civil right to speak out on whatever they want. Whenever the left or the right try to limit or intimidate or impose consequences upon one another for expressing their viewpoints, they make a mockery of democracy. Personally, I find discourses of many types offensive but don't believe people should be silenced or pressured into toeing any ideological line.
2. No one is currently being denied a 'basic civil right' in the issue of gay marriage. All people are free to marry people using the same standards. No, gays can't marry 'whoever they want', but neither can straight people. There are limits on age and relationship embedded in the marriage contract. A gay man and a straight man have the same civil right. Both can marry a woman of a certain age that is not immediately related to them. There is no difference.
3. This fight is not about love, it's about money and power (most fights are). In the '60s many people chose not to marry, because 'we don't need a piece of paper to define our love'. Many of those same people realized later that there are legal and financial benefits to marrying. This fight is about those things.
4. I don't believe that Christians should invest time and energy opposing gay marriage. Gays cannot marry. According to Christian theology, marriage is not defined by the state, but rather by God. The state can declare a dog to be a cat, but that doesn't make it so. As soon as people of faith make the issue about what the government allows they have lost the battle. The issue has become whether society will recognize homosexual unions as sanctioned and protected. Frankly, I don't care. The State of Indiana has no more right to declare to people married than it does to declare them to be a fish. Marriage is a spiritual state instituted by God and the state has no place in it. If Christians really wanted to protect marriage, they would spend less on lobbying and more on programs to prevent spousal abuse. If Christians want to protest homosexual unions, they should wholesale stop filing for marriage licenses. This would show the state that they no longer recognize its authority in the matter. Ah, you say, this would have profound legal and economic consequences for Christian families. Maybe so, but conviction ought to have a price. Would you still marry your spouse if you didn't have any legal benefits? If not, then you probably don't have a real marriage anyway.
As I said before, this debate is more about power and money and who has it, and as such, it bores me. I applaud Tony for standing up for his beliefs, even though I think there are better causes to choose.