Bob Newhart, the beloved actor and comedian, quietly announced over social media that he has cancelled his upcoming gig at the Legatus Summit. This follows GLAAD and several LGBT advocates and bloggers, including Lisa Derrick of Firedog Lake, pointing out the harsh anti-LGBT agenda of the organization.
Upcoming Bob Newhart Tour Date Change -- Bob will not be performing at the Legatus Summit in Orlando FL on February 6th, 2014
— Bob Newhart (@BobNewhart) December 19, 2013
There was no further statement given. However, it is possible that Newhart, like many people were unaware that Legatus was such a rabid anti-LGBT organization. The organization was created by former Domino's Pizza CEO, Thomas Monaghan, for Roman Catholic businesspeople, and membership is only available to top level executives.
However, GLAAD's Jeremy Hooper found that the organization is vehemently anti-LGBT. On November 1, 2012, Legatus magazine, the print publication of the conservative Catholic organization of the same name, listed five "non-negotiables" for voters about to head to the polls. Marriage equality was one of the five listed items, with the staff writer instructing Catholics "to avoid voting for candidates who endorse or promote policies that provide for any of these acts and to vote instead for those who promote policies in keeping with moral law." There is more at Jeremy's blog post. We shared that information with Newhart's representatives, asking them what message his participation would send to his LGBT and allied fans.
Bob Newhart is a lifelong Catholic. He also has a history of working with LGBT people and storylines. In 1976 The Bob Newhart Show featured an episode with an openly gay character. It was remarkably groundbreaking for its time.
Newhart also was in the film In & Out, in which he played a principal dealing (not so well, but very comically) with the coming out of one of his teachers, played by Kevin Kline. Most recently, Newhart won an Emmy Award for his guest appearances on Big Bang Theory, opposite of openly gay actor, Jim Parsons.
Two petitions were created, asking Newhart to reconsider his gig with Legatus. One, created by Faithful America, got about 17K sigs calling on Newhart to cancel his Legatus gig. The other was created on Change.org by a transgender comic and former Roman Catholic, who also asked Newhart to back out of the summit.
"Newhart is merely siding with the majority of fair-minded Americans who do not support the anti-LGBT agenda of organizations like Legatus," said Rich Ferraro, Vice President of Communications at GLAAD. "These groups constantly struggle to find high-profile people of faith to speak at their events, but at a time when more and more people of faith are accepting of LGBT people, they will continue to be left to choose between increasingly fringe figures."