CNN's Roland Martin wrote on Monday night that he "sincerely regret[ted] any offense" the controversial tweets he wrote during the Super Bowl on Sunday had caused. But he was steadfast in his insistence that he had not been making any homophobic statements in the tweets, as gay rights groups have charged.
Martin caused a firestorm after tweeting that any male fans of an underwear commercial with David Beckham were not "real bruhs," and that people should "smack the ish" out of them. These comments led to a call by GLAAD for CNN to fire Martin. GLAAD cited earlier statements by Martin, such as a column in which he said that his wife has "counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle, and to live a chaste life," to say that his latest tweets were part of an anti-gay pattern.
Martin defended himself on Twitter and in a longer statement on Monday, saying that he was merely zinging Beckham and other fans of soccer. However, those attempts did not lessen the controversy, and so he issued a longer statement on Monday night.
"I have been accused by members of the LGBT community of being supportive of violence against gays and lesbians and bullying," he wrote. "That is furthest from the truth, and I sincerely regret any offense my words have caused."
Martin said that he was a victim of bullying and has taken many stances against it during his career.
"When we witness violence in this country against someone because they are gay, or being beaten because they are Black, that speaks to a vicious cycle that seems to be never ending," he wrote.
But he maintained that he had merely been making a joke about soccer:
My joking about smacking someone, whether it was in response to a commercial or food they prepare for a Super Bowl party or wearing an opposing team's jersey, was stated in jest. It was not meant literally, and in no way would I ever condone someone doing such a thing. As I said repeatedly, I often make jokes about soccer in the U.S., and my crack about David Beckham's commercial was related to that and not to anyone's sexuality. To those who construed my comment as being anti-gay or homophobic or advancing violence, I'm truly sorry. I can certainly understand how someone could come to a different conclusion than the one I meant.
Read the full statement here.