Gary Sinise, known for his roles in CSI: New York, Forrest Gump, and The Green Mile, among others, also holds a role as the creator of a foundation that works for the needs of veterans. Sinise had scheduled a talk at the upcoming Legatus Conference to speak of veterans’ issues and promote the Gary Sinise Foundation. However, a ripple of unease followed the news, as fans and supporters realized that Legatus is known for anti-gay views. Now, Sinise has announced that he will not attend the conference after all, saying he was not aware of Legatus’ reputation, though he fell short of actually denouncing those views.
The annual Legatus Summit will be held in February, but Gary Sinise won’t be on the list of speakers. In explaining his reasoning, Sinise mentioned his own faith, though he didn’t state whether the values of Legatus were in line with his own. Instead, Sinise focused on the ‘controversial’ nature of the organization’s views, said he had not been aware of them, and that he didn’t want these, or any controversies, associated with the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Here’s Sinise’s full statement.
“For me, faith has been a catalyst for my mission to honor the men and women who serve in our nation’s military. When I accepted the invitation to speak at the Legatus conference about Veterans issues and share my story, I was unaware of the controversy surrounding some of the participants, and their views on personal matters. I don’t want my mission—which is designed to be unifying—to be disrupted by these, or any controversies, and therefore have decided to withdraw.”
On Sinise’s Facebook page, some people still express disbelief that the actor and director could possibly have not know Legatus’ reputation and stance, but the fact is, he’s not the first to cancel an appearance with the group.
Catholic Online reports that Bob Newhart cancelled a talk with Legatus in 2013, and, like Sinise, Newhart is said to have learned from fans and activists that the group’s views are notoriously anti-gay. Fox News’ Brett Baier has also canceled an appearance at this year’s summit, according to Mediaite. He, too, is reported to have accepted an invitation without knowing the group’s views.
Those views include putting the word ‘marriage’ inside quotes when speaking of same-sex marriages, opposing the increasing legalization of same-sex marriage, and characterizing non-cis sexualities as disorders that need to be cured.
Like Gary Sinise, neither Brett Baier nor Bob Newhart have publicly denounced these views, only elected to disassociate their efforts from the organization.
[Photo: Lance Cpl. Bryan G. Carfrey]