After Josh Duggar’s resignation from the conservative Family Research Council (FRC) on Thursday and admission that he did indeed molest underage girls — including his sisters — while he was a teenager, critics were not just calling for the cancellation of his family’s reality show; they were highlighting the apparent hypocrisy between his actions and his family’s repeated attempts to paint same-sex marriage and homosexuality itself as moral failings.
Talk show host Montel Williams was perhaps the most high-profile person lambasting Duggar on Twitter going into Thursday evening.
Sorry, Josh Duggar is a bigot, slimebag. Whole family is, and FRC is a scam. Yup, Gay people are the danger to kids? NOPE, JOSH DUGGAR IS
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) May 21, 2015
The tag “Josh Duggar hypocrite” was full of similar posts blasting the FRC’s now-former policy director. But a look at the Duggars’ recent history illustrates that homophobic statements were indeed part of the family business. Here are a few examples:
When Evelyn Ruark, the older sister of the Duggar matriarch, Michelle, appeared on the family’s show on The Learning Channel, the program made no mention of her sexuality, or that she already had a partner. Ruark had also expressed misgivings about her relatives’ involvement in the “Quiverfull” parenting movement, which calls on members to eschew all manner of birth control.
“We have often thought that QuiverFull is a cult,” Ruark told the National Enquirer in 2010. “It appears to be brainwashing to me.”
While Michelle Duggar has been quoted as saying that Ruark “is an amazing person,” she was not as kind to other LGBT residents in Fayetteville, launching a series of robocalls last year calling for the overturning of Ordinance 119, which allowed trans residents to use restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities according to their gender identity.
“I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls,” she said. “I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space.”
The ordinance was eventually overturned in a local vote, and the family was found to have donated money to local forces calling for it to be repealed.
In August 2014, Josh Duggar warned the audience at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa that President Barack Obama was furthering a pro-LGBT agenda at the expense of religious conservatives.
“We have an administration that has taken a direct assault on us. This is not just about a disagreement,” he argued. “This is not just saying, ‘This is our opinion, here’s your opinion, let’s have a discussion.'”
He would revisit the remark four months later, when he accused unnamed “radical gay groups” of using “the power of the state” against Christians.
Josh’s remarks about “radical gay groups” might have been prompted by an online petition that eventually amassed around 180,000 signatures calling for TLC to pull the show because of his family’s anti-LGBT beliefs.
But the family patriarch scoffed at the effort during a speech, “They won’t succeed. Our show is the No. 1 show on TLC. It’s a small group creating this fuss. All it has done is give us more exposure.”
The Duggars’ confidence was probably bolstered by a campaign mounted by other Christian conservatives, who pledged to save the show from “rabid homosexuals.”
Among the reasons? Santorum, they said, is “a defender of traditional marriage, protecting the core of our families.”
While Santorum has not made his intentions known for 2016, he can’t count on a sequel; Business Insider reported earlier this month that the family is now backing former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
The Duck Dynasty patriarch was suspended from his show in 2013 following racist and homophosbic remarks that were printed in a magazine interview. While the uproar led to the show’s ratings dropping, conservatives quickly tried to paint Robertson as the victim.
Josh Duggar made a similar statement on his blog, arguing that Robertson’s remarks were not “the real controversy.”
“The real issue is religious intolerance, and it shouldn’t be tolerated,” Duggar said at the time. “He has a right to free speech and that includes his opinions on religion, life, marriage …and ducks.”
It remains to be seen whether Robertson — or any of the other prominent Republicans previously seen with Josh Duggar — will speak in his defense following Thursday’s events.