Duck Dynasty suspension sparks strong reactions

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - It's a controversy that involves freedom of speech, religious beliefs and the most popular reality show on television.

The patriarch of Duck Dynasty has been suspended from the program after making anti-gay comments in a magazine interview. As you might expect, there is strong reaction to Phil Robertson's suspension.

Even if you've never seen the show on A&E, chances are you've seen "the beards" and all that Duck Dynasty promotion.

The owner of Cypress Cafe in Bay St. Louis has been selling Duck Commander merchandise for over a year. She's not surprised Phil Robertson was so outspoken.

"He's known for that, so I think people have the right to say what they want to say. And you know, everyone has their own opinion," said Holly Lemoine-Raymond.

It was Robertson's view about homosexuality that got him in trouble. In an interview with GQ magazine, he was quite blunt about what he considers sinful behavior.

Read the original GQ article that sparked all the controversy:

"I have a gay son who's a wonderful person, I love him very much. But I'm also a Christian, a practicing Catholic," said Warren Gravois of Pearlington.

He calls the controversy a "difficult situation."  He's heard Phil Robertson preach.

"I like what he says. I agree with him most of the time. But maybe he was a little too outspoken this time," he said.

We found mixed reaction among others in Bay St. Louis.  Duck Dynasty was the subject of lunchtime discussion at the Blind Tiger restaurant.

"If we're going to be tolerant, we need to be tolerant of everyone's views. If you're tolerant of homosexuality, you should be tolerant of those who don't feel that's an appropriate lifestyle," said Kristen Sommer.

Kenny and Joe are Vietnam vets and big fans of Duck Dynasty.  They consider it a free speech issue.

"I think it's sad to me, personally. We all have opinions. We all have to say something. But it shouldn't be wrong all the time," said Kenny.

"I think it's sad. I think if you ask a person for an opinion, you should live with the answer," his friend Joe added.

"I love people to be who they are. So that really attracted me to them," said the Cypress Café owner.

She doesn't expect the controversy will hurt the popularity of Duck Commander merchandise. In fact, if anything, the added attention may just boost sales.

Even Louisiana's governor is weighing-in on the Duck Dynasty shake-up.

Governor Bobby Jindal says, "It is a messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended."

The Robertson family released a statement on the Duck Commander website Thursday evening in which they expressed thanks for prayers and support.

Read the full statement from the Robertson family here:

The statement said though some of Robertson's comments were coarse, "his beliefs are grounded" in the Bible and he "is a Godly man."

"We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith," the statement said. "We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty."

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