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Fourteen months after he sparked a major controversy for making remarks widely perceived as anti-gay, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson has been named the recipient of a free-speech award from Citizens United, an organization routinely disparaged by Hollywood liberals.
Robertson will receive the “Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award” at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, which is better known as CPAC and is one of the biggest annual events for prominent movers and shakers on the right.
Sourcing the Bible, Robertson said in a GQ magazine interview that homosexuality and same-sex marriages were sinful, causing a firestorm of criticism from the political left, and on Dec. 18, 2013, A&E announced he had been indefinitely suspended from Duck Dynasty. After a fierce backlash largely from conservatives, the network lifted its suspension.
“Even when the entire mainstream media demanded he disavow his beliefs and attempted to have him fired from his own hit show for expressing these beliefs, he stood firm in his faith,” Citizens United president David Bossie said.
Bossie’s group is most famous for Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that blocking the airing of the group’s documentary film Hillary: The Movie was a violation of free speech. The FEC had argued, unsuccessfully, that the movie should adhere to laws governing political advertising, given that it was a critical look at Hillary Clinton scheduled for release when she was seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. president.
“When one does not have the freedom to speak out loud and anywhere what one believes, freedom is dead,” said Robertson, who is set to receive his award at CPAC on Feb. 27 in National Harbor, Md.
The Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award was created more than a year ago, and the first one went to conservative radio host Mark Levin, given to him last year, also at CPAC.
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