There are mixed reactions from LGBT advocacy groups to A&E’s lifting of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s suspension, with GLAAD expressing dismay and the Human Rights Campaign taking an attitude of cautious optimism.
A&E announced Friday that the reality series about a Louisiana family in the duck-call business would continue with the entire family, including Robertson, who was suspended a little over a week ago after an interview in which he made antigay and racist comments. Network officials also said they would develop a series of public service announcements promoting tolerance and inclusion.
GLAAD quickly denounced the decision to reinstate Robertson, issuing the following statement: “Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists. If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A+E has chosen profits over African American and gay people — especially its employees and viewers.”
HRC, however, saw some positive aspects to the situation. Spokesman Fred Sainz told CNN that HRC officials were “heartened” by the plans for the PSA campaign and added, “We’ve received assurances also that the Robertson family is now open to working with African-American and LGBT people to address the real harm that such antigay and racist comments can cause. That’s been our ‘ask’ since Phil’s comments ran in GQ, and while it’s a positive step, it certainly cannot and should not be the last one.”
A&E suspended Robertson after the publication of a GQ magazine interview in which he made statements including “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” and said he never saw blacks being mistreated in the South prior to the civil rights movement.
A new season of Duck Dynasty, already filmed and featuring the entire family, will begin airing January 15. Another season of episodes will be shot this spring. The program is TV’s highest-rated reality show.