After over a week of silence, Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker publicly defended the controversial commencement speech he gave earlier this month at Benedictine College.

During the “Courage Under Fire Gala” hosted by the Regina Caeli Academy on Friday, the Catholic football player doubled down on remarks he made in his speech at the Kansas college that were criticized by the public as homophobic and sexist.

“If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now,” Butker said Friday evening at the address in Nashville, Tennessee.

“As to be expected, the more I’ve talked about what I value most — which is my Catholic faith — the more polarizing I’ve become. It’s a decision I’ve consciously made and one I do not regret at all,” he continued later.

On May 11, the Catholic football player’s commencement speech dove into a ring-wing, bigoted rant, during which he slammed abortion rights and dogmatized “dangerous gender ideologies” and the “tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion.” Butker also called LGBTQ+ Pride Month “a deadly sin” and suggested that female graduates “embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.”

“I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you,” he said in his commencement address. “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

His speech went viral and drew widespread criticism, including from his teammates and the National Football League.

A few days after Butker’s speech, the NFL released a statement distancing itself from the football players’ views, stating that they do not represent those of the organization.

On Friday, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce weighed in on his teammate’s remarks during an episode of his podcast “New Heights,” saying that he believes Butker is “a great person and a great teammate” who he has seen treat others with “nothing but respect and kindness,” but that he disagrees with his views.

“I can’t say I agree with the majority of it, or just about any of it, outside of just him loving his family and his kids,” Kelce said about Butker’s speech, but added that he doesn’t think he should judge Butker’s views, especially his religious beliefs.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes backed Butker, saying that he didn’t agree with all of his teammate’s conservative views but that he is a “good person.”

A petition was created following Butker’s commencement address calling for his removal from the Chiefs due to his “discriminatory” remarks, which gained over 200,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, some public figures jumped to Butker’s defense on the grounds of free speech and expression. TV personality Whoopi Goldberg compared the Chiefs kicker and the controversy to Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem before games to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the U.S.

“These are his beliefs and he’s welcome to them,” Goldberg said during an episode of “The View” on Thursday. “I don’t have to believe them. Right? I don’t have to accept them.”

Butker appeared to acknowledge those who supported his right to free speech during the gala on Friday,

“As the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion,” he said.

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