Tony Dungy, the Christian coach of this year's Super Bowl champions, clearly laid out his position against same-sex "marriage" Tuesday night.
In front of a crowd of 700 at the Indiana Family Institute (IFI)'s banquet, the Indianapolis Colts coach agreed with IFI's position of defining a marriage as being between a man and a woman.
"I appreciate the stance they're taking," he said, according to the Indianapolis Star, "and I embrace that stance."
Before the awards dinner, several pro-homosexual and gay rights groups had criticized Dungy for attending the event. IFI, which has affiliations with Focus on the Family, has been a major voice in supporting a marriage amendment that is currently in the Indiana House, legally defining marriage as one man and one woman. The gay rights groups felt the professional football coach should stay away from all politics.
"We're not anti-anything else," explained Dungy, according to USA Today. "We're not trying to downgrade anyone else. But we're trying to promote the family – family values the Lord's way."
The coach went on to say that his comments should not be looked at as "gay bashing," but that everything he said should be looked at from his foundation on faith.
Dungy attended the banquet held in Carmel, Ind., about 20 miles north of Indianapolis, to receive the group's "Friend of the Family" award. Past recipients include Shirley Dobson, co-founder of Focus on the Family, and former federal independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
During his speech, the night's honoree said he was not ashamed to be at the event.
"IFI is saying what the Lord says," explained Dungy, according to USA Today. "You can take that and make your decision on which way you want to be. I'm on the Lord's side."
Reactions to his position were mixed.
"It is unfortunate that coach Dungy has chosen to align himself with the Indiana Family Institute," expressed Bil Browning, managing editor of a blog that focuses on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in Indiana, according to the Indianapolis Star. "The Colts were supported this season by all of their fans – gay and straight."
Others were not surprised at all.
"I guess I just consider him more in this arena as a man and a father and a man of God, not just a coach," said Debbie Huskins, who attended the speech, to the Indianapolis Star. "That's his job, but who he is, is a man of God. And that's how he was speaking tonight."
The coach's football franchise had expressed their neutrality on the issue before the awards ceremony.
"Coach Dungy's feelings on the importance of marriage and family are well known," a Colts' statement said. "He, of course, is free to speak to any group he wishes. The club does not take positions in political issues in which it is not directly involved. The Colts do not endorse any political or religious position taken by any group that any Colts employee decides to speak or lend his or her name to."
Dungy has received numerous accolades over the past years. Among them, he was notably the first black person to win a Super Bowl this past February. He testified the victory as having been achieved "the Lord's way."