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Interception: Clemson Football Coach Withdraws From Antigay Fundraiser

Interception: Clemson Football Coach Withdraws From Antigay Fundraiser


Clemson University's head football coach, Dabo Swinney, gave in to pressure to cancel a speech at the antigay Palmetto Family Council fundraiser in Columbia, S.C.


Following growing pressure to cancel a scheduled speech at a South Carolina antigay organization's fundraiser, SC Equality says the head coach of the Clemson University football team, Dabo Swinney, has chosen not to speak at the Palmetto Family Council's fundraiser.

The Fighting Tigers coach was set to speak at the fundraiser on Tuesday, June 2, but according to SC Equality, withdrew under pressure from organizations and individuals supportive of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

"We commend Coach Swinney for having the courage to stand up and show this respect for diversity," said Jeff Ayers, interim executive director of SC Equality. "Clemson students, alumni, faculty, and staff come from all walks of life, and we rely on role models like Coach Swinney to show the world that South Carolina's community leaders will not stand for intolerance and hate."

South Carolina House Minority Leader Representative Todd Rutherford released a statement supporting Swinney's decision. "This is a sign of the significant progress the state of South Carolina has made with respect to tolerance and equal rights. I hope others follow Coach Swinney's lead in standing up to groups like the Palmetto Family Council who seek to make discrimination legal and acceptable," Rutherford said.

As Outsports first reported, the head of the Palmetto Family Council was one of the authors of South Carolina's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The group is dedicated to fighting against equality for LGBT people and same-sex couples, and according to its mission statement on its website, specifically targets advancements toward equality and inclusion for LGBT people:

"Our vision is to transform the culture in South Carolina by promoting the values and virtues of marriage, the traditional family model, and sexual purity."

South Carolinians and organizations called for Swinney to pull out of the event. GLAAD vice president of programs and South Carolina native Zeke Stokes said he believes it would be wrong for such a prominent sports figure to attend an event that revolves around discrimination and bigotry.

"Coach Swinney has an obligation to the players he leads and all students that attend Clemson to use his considerable profile to promote causes that bring us together, not tear us apart," Stokes said on GLAAD's website. "The Palmetto Family Council's values are out of line with the values of love and acceptance for all people, and I hope the coach will reconsider the message that his alignment with them sends."

A Clemson student, William Ta'oma, collected more than 1,200 signatures on a petition, asking Swinney to back out of the event.

Meanwhile, on his College Football Talk blog at NBC Sports, Kevin McGuire called for Swinney to consider the implications of his involvement:

"Nobody has a right to step in and tell Swinney he is wrong to support his beliefs, no matter how backwards you think they may be on this subject, but it might be wise for Swinney to think about what his actions are saying. Swinney may promote a bit of a religious setting around his program, but what would his decision be if he knew he had a gay player on his roster?

"Whatever the case may be, it is clear we still have some work to do to provide the same human rights to those in the LGBT community. Swinney would be a great example and leader for that effort if he backed out of this event, but that is his call to make."

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