Last week, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees appeared in a brief video promoting “Bring Your Bible To School Day,” which, whatever. In itself, it’s probably a 3 on the scale of odd things an athlete can do with his free time. What’s actually frustrating—though frankly not too surprising—is Brees did the promo for Focus On The Family, which puts on the Bible Day and publishes the website that Brees’s video directed viewers to.
That organization may sound familiar because it once ran an anti-choice Super Bowl ad featuring Tim Tebow, or because it was once a key player on the wrong side of the battle for LGBT rights earlier this millennium. While their relevance has dipped as gay people have won more widespread acceptance in the U.S., their core views remain the same: no same-sex marriage, no same-sex adoption, etc.—you know the sort of bigots. Perhaps most heinous of Focus On The Family’s anti-gay causes is the organization’s continued support of conversion therapy, the deeply wrongheaded and harmful idea that gay people can and should be turned straight.
“I want people to know that God changes people, that leaving homosexuality is a possibility, and that we should have the freedom to do so,” Focus on the Family “issues analyst” Jeff Johnston told CBS News last year, arguing against bans on conversion therapy. “The Government shouldn’t step between me and my counselor. That’s not their role.”
Because opposition to LGBT people is Focus On The Family’s signature issue, people naturally got upset to see Brees associate with prominent homophobes. Big Easy Magazine was one of the first to note the problem, and found evidence of a relationship between Brees and Focus on the Family dating back to at least 2010.
But in a video he released today, Brees had a message for his critics: What? Me, bigoted? Me???
“I do not support any groups that discriminate or have their own agendas that are trying to promote inequality,” said Brees after supporting a group that discriminates and has its own agenda that tries to promote inequality.
I can’t see inside Brees’s head and don’t know what his beliefs are—given that he’s a rich, straight man who’s spent nearly two decades fanatically focused on playing pro football at a legendary level, I’d wager he might not even know what conversion therapy is. But his explanation has to do better than this. The video doesn’t mention Focus On The Family at all, let alone disavow them, and speaks in only the vaguest possible terms about the specific criticism Brees received. At best, the statement makes clear that Drew Brees will not directly attack any gay person for their sexuality, but whether or not he believes they should have full rights is still up for debate.
“I’m not sure why the negativity spread, or why people have tried to rope me into certain negativity,” Brees says in the video, most annoyingly. I know he’s hard at work preparing for the Texans, but literally five minutes on the internet, tops, would answer that question. He really doesn’t even have to do it himself! Just find someone who’ll tell him, “Hey, that video was produced by people who want to oppress gay people. Back away from it now.” Drew, if you’re reading, I’m telling you it right now.
Does Drew Brees believe that conversion therapy can effectively end the homosexual threat? Does he believe in gay couples’ right to adopt and indoctrinate their children into the queer lifestyle? Does he believe same-sex marriage should be legal at all? Because Brees does not answer these now-relevant questions in his statement, anyone with press credentials to cover the Saints is more than welcome to ask Brees these questions.