The Duggar family – made famous by TLC’s popular reality television show – just helped repeal an ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination. What responsibility does TLC have for the work being carried out by its reality TV superstars?
Since the debut of their TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting” in 2008, the Duggar family has slowly evolved from a television novelty to a prominent icon in Republican politics. Their religious fervor, opposition to abortion, and emphasis on conservative “family values” have helped transform them into champions for social conservatives who now make frequent appearances on the campaign trail for GOP candidates. Many have noted the disturbing and ultra-conservative radicalism that lies beneath the Duggar’s “family values” – namely the family’s extreme views on women’s and LGBT rights.
But the Duggar family has maintained a largely symbolic role in right-wing politics – acting more as champions of a socially conservative ideal than as actual players in the fight against social progress.
Until this week.
On December 9, the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas, voted 52 to 48 percent to repeal its recently-enacted Ordinance 119, a measure that would have prohibited discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and several other categories.
Michelle Duggar, the matriarch of the Duggar family, recorded a robocall earlier this year urging voters to oppose the ordinance, falsely claiming that it would allow male sexual predators to enter women’s restrooms. The family donated $10,000 to the campaigns of three vocal opponents of the ordinance. Josh Duggar, who is Executive Director of FRC Action – the political arm of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council – used his position to urge voters to repeal of the ordinance.
The margin for repeal was less than 500 votes. Given the amount of even local media coverage the Duggars’ involvement received, it’s not a stretch to suggest that the family played a significant role in helping repeal the ordinance.
It’s not the first time the Duggar clan has used their celebrity to advocate against equality. In October 2013, the Duggars went on the road with the Family Research Council for a “Values Bus Tour” across Virginia in support of a radically anti-LGBT gubernatorial ticket. Last month, Josh Duggar led a rally against marriage equality in Little Rock, Arkansas last minute.
It is time for the TLC celebrities to end their nationwide campaign to walk back the rights of LGBT Americans.
It’s an important question, especially now that the Duggars have used their reality show fame to help do real, concrete damage to LGBT people in Fayetteville.
It seems unlikely that TLC is unaware of the Duggars’ anti-LGBT political work. In November, tens of thousands of people signed a petition to have 19 Kids and Counting canceled in response to Michelle Duggar’s Ordinance 119 robocall. The petition sparked an a counter-petition from supporters (and with the help of one of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT hate groups) asking TLC to keep the show on the air. TLC refused to comment on the controversy.
TLC’s silence on the Duggars’ work in Fayetteville highlights…