Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for the Palmetto Family Council, which has drawn the ire of several people who are calling for him to back out of the engagement.
The Palmetto Family Council is a conservative advocacy group that opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.
“I find it highly inappropriate that Coach Swinney would appear at a fundraiser for an organization that is so openly discriminatory and politically motivated,” House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, said in a statement released to The State. “I cannot fathom why Coach Swinney or anyone else would knowingly assist a group whose mission is to fight against equal rights and equal treatment of others.”
According to the Family Council website, its No. 1 goal is keep the “traditional family model” in South Carolina.
"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."
GLAAD vice president of programs Zeke Stokes also issued a statement on the GLADD website questioning why Swinney would want to be part of a the Family Council event.
"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," wrote Stokes, who is from South Carolina.
Clemson spokeswoman Robin Denny told The State that Swinney was notified several months ago the Family Council was giving him an award for various factors, including the work of his foundation.
“As far as we can surmise it is not a speaking engagement, merely an acceptance of an award,” Denny told the paper.
The paper also noted that South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner had previously spoken to the organization.
Clemson student William Ta'oma started a petition on change.org calling for Swinney to withdraw from the event.
While Family Council president Oran Smith told the paper that Swinney should have the right to speak to whomever he wants, Rutherford does not see it that way.
“As a state employee, national figure and role model to kids all over the state, Coach Swinney should send a message that he has zero tolerance for discrimination and cancel his appearance,” Rutherford said.
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