- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2015

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has canceled an upcoming appearance at a fundraiser for a conservative South Carolina organization, following backlash over the group’s views against same-sex marriage.

The Palmetto Family Council planned to honor Mr. Swinney on June 2 as the “South Carolina Family Champion of 2015,” but after receiving considerable backlash from gay-rights groups, the football coach announced he will not be attending, ESPN reported Wednesday.

Mr. Swinney said he is not involved with the Palmetto Family Council, and that he was under the impression his attendance at the event was solely to honor his All In Foundation.

“Recently, my scheduled participation in this event has been perceived incorrectly as an endorsement of certain viewpoints and has entered the political arena,” he said in a statement. “I have been out of town since last Thursday and am disappointed that this has become a distraction for me, my team and many others. I have been and continue to be very open about my personal beliefs. However, I do not inject those beliefs or the work of the foundation into the political process.”

Palmetto Family Council President Oran Smith said Mr. Swinney was aware of exactly what the event entailed, ESPN reported.

“[W]e don’t wish to contradict our brother or harm him. But, our request letter was quite specific about the presence of donors, length of remarks, etc.,” he said.

Regardless, the group’s chairman said they respected Mr. Swinney’s decision to cancel.

“We understand Coach Swinney’s reluctance to engage in, or respond to, petty political attacks, and we certainly appreciate his principled leadership on and off the field,” Reese Boyd III said, ESPN reported. “We will continue to promote his good work and recognize others that do the same.”

According to the Palmetto Family Council website, the group seeks to “transform the culture in South Carolina by promoting the values and virtues of marriage, the traditional family model and sexual purity.”

Last week, South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said the group is “openly discriminatory” and called Mr. Swinney’s involvement “highly inappropriate.”

Responding to the coach’s cancellation, Mr. Rutherford said Wednesday: “I applaud Coach Swinney’s leadership & foresight on this very important issue. It’s a testament to his character as an individual & coach,” ESPN reported.

 

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