Jason and David Benham say they are not upset at HGTV
Their complaint is with what they call a gay "agenda"
Cancellation of "Flip It Forward" fuels debate about effects of airing personal beliefs
The twin brothers who lost their HGTV show after a recording surfaced of one’s anti-homosexuality views are surprisingly not upset at the network that fired them.
Their beef is not with HGTV, but with the gay “agenda” that “bullied” the network, Jason and David Benham told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday.
“I feel they got bullied,” David Benham said. “There’s an agenda that’s out in America right now that demands silence, especially from men and women who profess Jesus Christ and hold to his standards.”
Their dismissal from the show they were scheduled to host added fuel to the debate over people losing their jobs for what they say about their personal lives.
It’s not a free speech issue, as both sides mostly agree that people have the right to say what they want, but a question of how severe the consequences for unpopular positions should be.
HGTV was within its rights to let the Benham brothers go, but maybe it shouldn’t have, Ellis Henican, a Newsday columnist, told “New Day.”
“Do they have a legal right? Yes. Should we be cheering it? No, we should not. We ought to be big enough people that we can see people we don’t agree with, let them fix their houses, help the nice people. What are we scared of?” Henican said.
The brothers ran afoul of the network after the site Right Wing Watch published a post about the pair, labeling David Benham as an “anti-gay, anti-choice extremist” for reportedly leading a prayer rally in 2012 outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The site posted a recording of Benham talking to a talk show host about “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation” and “demonic ideologies” taking hold in colleges and public schools.
Benham also discusses the fight for North Carolina’s Amendment One, which involved a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state constitution.
The Benham brothers were the planned stars of the HGTV show “Flip It Forward,” set to premiere in October, in which they would have helped families purchase homes they otherwise could not afford.
“When the firestorm came in, we had an opportunity to speak with HG and the folks over there and explain to them who we were as people,” Jason Benham said. “We sell to all people of all kinds, and that we would be glad to take a homosexual couple onto our show.”
Peter Shankman, a branding and social media consultant, told “New Day” that the decision probably boiled down to money.
“This is HGTV scared because they saw what happened with Paula Deen, they saw what happened with “Duck Dynasty,” and this is a … move to make sure that this doesn’t come back to bite them,” he said, referring to the controversies for offensive comments made by the stars on their respective shows.
“This is about money,” he said. “And if you are going to come out and say something that is against a big section of the population, love it or hate it, you’re going to not have that right to give that talk, to get that show, to do whatever.”
The show’s producers knew about the brothers’ views and went ahead with them as hosts until the controversy went public, the Benhams said.
“We don’t feel wronged at all. This isn’t HG versus us, or us against the gay community. This is an agenda, and we’re getting to witness it right now,” Jason Benham said.
Their comments have never been aimed at gays, but at an agenda that says you can’t stand by your beliefs, Jason Benham said.
“It’s only going to get worse because there is an agenda that wants to silence the beliefs that we have,” he said.
CNN’s Lisa Respers France contributed to this report.