Reality TV star Phil Robertson is to be honored with a freedom of speech award just over a year after he caused a firestorm of protest by remarking that being gay was sinful.
Robertson, who rose to fame in Duck Dynasty, is set to receive the Andrew Breitbart Defender Of The First Amendment Award from campaign group Citizens United at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in National Harbor, Maryland.
Upon learning about the award Robertson underscored his belief in freedom of speech.
He said: ‘I want to thank Citizens United and Breitbart for this award. When one does not have the freedom to speak out loud and anywhere what one believes, freedom is dead.’
He said: ‘It seems like, to me, a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man’s anus. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man.’
The Arts & Entertainment Network (A+E), which broadcasts Duck Dynasty, immediately distanced itself from Robertson after his remarks.
It said in a statement: ‘We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.’
Robertson was initially suspended from the show as punishment, but reinstated after a backlash from the conservative community.
Duck Dynasty portrays the lives of the Robertson family, who’ve made a small fortune through their Duck Commander firm, which makes products for duck hunters.
The show is one of the highest rated cable shows in the US, pulling in audiences of up to 14million.
The Robertson family’s rags-to-riches story, meanwhile, has been made into a musical that will be performed in a small Las Vegas theater starting April 15.
The Duck Commander Musical, to be staged at the Rio hotel and casino, features actors playing the A&E reality-show family.
It’s based on the 2012 book by family member Willie Robertson and his wife, Korie, titled The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty.
The award Robertson is receiving was created a year ago, with the initial recipient being conservative radio host Mark Levin.
It’s named after Andrew Breitbart, a campaigning media mogul who founded the conservative Breitbart news website and who died in 2012.
In 2010 he told the Associated Press: ‘I’m committed to the destruction of the old media guard.’