(NEW YORK) — A&E’s decision to reinstate Phil Robertson on Duck Dynasty shows the network has “chosen profits over African American and gay people,” the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said on Saturday.
“Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists,” GLAAD said in a statement. “If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A+E has chosen profits over African American and gay people — especially its employees and viewers.”
Roberts was suspended from the hit show after he gave an interview with GQ Magazine in which he made anti-gay comments and said he didn’t see black people suffering inequality before the civil rights movement. On Friday, the network released a statement saying he would return to the show in 2014.
“After discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family,” the release stated.
In a statement to Fox News, the family said they were “excited to keep making a quality TV show.”
“We will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through Duck Dynasty and our many projects that we are currently working on,” they said in the statement. “The outpouring of support and prayer has encouraged and emboldened us greatly.”
A&E said the network would “use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.”
The Duck Dynasty patriarch, 67, was suspended more than a week ago, after said he believed homosexuality to be a sin and that he never saw the mistreatment of any black person growing up in Louisiana before the civil rights era.
Robertson later defended his comments and said all he did was quote from the Bible and that he would “not give or back off from my path.”
Fans of the show created an online petition to get Robertson back on Duck Dynasty. As of Saturday morning, 262,830 had signed the petition.
A&E explained the decision to bring Robertson back, saying that Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views — Robertson’s — and that “it resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family … a family that America has come to love … they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: ABC is a part owner of the A&E Network
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Frank Pallotta, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN