Note to potential TV hosts: If you are going to have a television show on network TV, make sure you know the beliefs of your target audience.
For HGTV’s Benham Brothers, they clearly did not get this memo.
On Tuesday, the website rightwingwatch.org released a comprehensive list of the brothers’ public and ongoing assaults against both the LGTB and Muslim communities in this country. One theme throughout the brothers’ public speeches is the claim that there is a “gay agenda” that is attempting to suffocate those in America who disagree with homosexuals and their lifestyles. At a prayer rally in Charlotte, North Carolina in September of 2012, David Benham spoke to the audience regarding the passage of Amendment One, which banned same sex marriages and civil unions in the state of North Carolina. At the rally, Benham said:
“We will always finger point but we don’t realize that OK if 87% of Americans are Christians and yet we have abortion on demand; we have no-fault divorce; we have pornography and perversion; we have a homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation; we have adultery; we have all of the things; we even have allowed demonic ideologies to take our universities and our public school systems while the church sits silent and just builds big churches. We are so complacent, we are so apathetic and we are very hypocritical in the church, that’s why the Bible says judgment begins in the house of God. So when we prayed at 714 we asked God and our city to forgive us for allowing these things in the house of God.”
After the article was posted and began to make the rounds online, HGTV executives immediately decided to schedule a meeting with the brothers to determine the proper course of action. On Wednesday, after meeting with the brothers, HGTV announced it was canceling the brothers’ show titled “Flip It Forward” which was set to premier in October on the network. The premise of the show had been that the brothers would transform homes that were fixer-uppers to then become dream homes for average, every day citizens. In response to HGTV’s decision, the brothers released a statement that said, “We were saddened to hear HGTV’s decision. With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles, and dedicated professionals. If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”
Already the brothers have become Fox media darlings. They appeared on The O’Reilly Factor on Friday evening and stated that they believed HGTV was “bullied” into canceling their show. They tried to clear the air by saying they were not against the gay community or gay individuals but rather the “gay agenda” they feel is being used to silence those of the Christian faith and its principles. The brothers did not harbor any ill will toward HGTV for the decision that they made.
Naturally, Conservatives are rallying to the side of the bigoted brothers. Once again, a pair of clean-cut, God-fearing young men have been wronged just because they expressed the time-honored Biblical views which are not accepted by today’s hell-bound heathens. Already, we have seen the brothers flock to Fox News and we can be sure to expect such talking heads as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity will prop them up on their shows to give them national exposure. Much like Phil Robertson, Fox News and friends will make the brothers out to be heroes for sharing their true Christian values and they will attempt to obliterate the “liberal media” for attempting to silence them two hard-working, kind, decent young men.
The problem for the Brenham brothers is that they are correct: There is a gay agenda. The agenda is equality. Nothing more. Nothing less. The agenda has always been a quest for equality and equal protection under the law. The right to be legally married in a ceremony with friends and family in attendance. The right to walk into a store and not be denied service. The right to adopt and raise children. The right to be buried in the same cemetery as their partner. And a myriad of the thousand plus rights that homosexual couples are being denied for the simple reason that they are gay. There is no national conspiracy to silence those who believe differently. What there is, is an increasing awareness that hatred and bigotry have no place in America in the year 2014.
The brothers were perfectly within their right to express their views at the 2012 rally in Charlotte. They are perfectly within their right to keep those views, even while they are preparing to make a television program for HGTV. That’s the beauty of the First Amendment. At the same time, we live in a capitalistic society. Businesses have the right to fire those whose comments reflect poorly upon the business or organization. Believe it or not, HGTV has a decent-sized homosexual audience. They knew that the audience would not be receptive to watching a new fall show with two brothers who publicly claimed there is an evil “gay agenda” that hopes to silence all devout Christians. Already upsetting your audience before the show even debuts is not a winning formula for a successful television program.
For David and Jason Benham, it was an expensive lesson to learn.