(CNSNews.com) – While Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson is a Bible-thumping Christian who publicly denounces homosexual behavior, among other things he views as sinful, he treats people – gays and “people of all different races, from all different places” – like family, said Deidre Gurney, the executive producer of the show, during a roundtable discussion hosted by The Hollywood Reporter.
“I know Phil Robertson. I know his beliefs. I know how he treats people,” said Gurney, who runs Gurney Productions with her husband Scott Gurney. “I know how he treats a crew that has several gay people on the crew, people of all different races, from all different places, and who love this show. And who’ve moved to Monroe, Louisiana for years, and this family treats them like family."
Gurney made her comment in response to a question about how she reacted in December 2013, when Phil Robertson was suspended from the show because he said homosexual behavior was sinful. The network, the A&E Channel, reinstated Robertson after 10 days because of the backlash from his supporters nationwide.
“What I wanted to be able to do was to speak and explain, but we couldn’t, and that’s the network’s job,” said Gurney at the June 10 roundtable. “We know our talent. I know Phil Robertson.”
After Gurney explained that Robertson treats all the people connected with the show, even the several gay people on the production crew, like a family, co-panelist Tim Gunn, who is gay and co-hosts Project Runway, said, “Are you saying he didn’t make the comments?”
Gurney answered, "He made the comments, but he doesn’t deny who he is. He has beliefs and he stands by his beliefs and what he said. But that isn’t how he treats people and what he thinks.”
“I think there’s a separation between what he thinks and how he thinks people should be treated,” said Gurney. “And I don’t think he was saying anything about how people should be treated.”
Robertson’s comments were made during an interview for GQ magazine, in which he said he did not understand why a man would prefer another man’s anus over a woman’s vagina. Then, when asked what was sinful, he said, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman, and that woman and those men.”
Robertson, who sometimes preaches at the White’s Ferry Road Church in West Monroe, La., went on to paraphrase Corinthians I (6:9-10): “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
A little later in the roundtable discussion, Gunn said, “And I just want to insert, the reason I’ve been more vocal than most on this topic is because I’m part of the same family of networks [A&E]. So, of course, I’ve been approached a lot about this. And have been, I hope, politically correct in simply saying, ‘I don’t have a comment other than is anyone surprised by Phil Robertson’s statement?’ I certainly wasn’t.”
Hollywood Reporter Senior Editor Stacey Wilson then commented that some of the people who watch Duck Dynasty “may share those sentiments, may believe in the same things, so there’s obviously a synergy out there for people.”
Gunn said he found that “to be a little alarming but that’s the way it is.”
Wilson then remarked that maybe the Duck Dynasty audience doesn’t want to watch Project Runway.
Gurney then interjected saying, “I watch both.”
“Well thank you, Deidre,” said Gunn. “But you’re also not a homophobe.”
Duck Dynasty is the most popular reality-TV program in cable history with an average 10.5 million viewers per episode.