Bend it Like Benham

The best bit of good news I have seen is this report from the Hollywood Reporter suggesting multiple other networks are considering picking up the series “Flip it Forward” that HGTV cancelled.

Since Carrie Prejean was hounded off the national stage for the crime of answering the question, should every state have gay marriage, with a polite “no,” Hollywood and the entertainment industry have made their point of view crystal clear: The glamour of television and movies is not for people who believe marriage is the union of a husband and a wife.  (The pageant judge who videotaped himself and posted the video calling Ms. Prejean the “c-word” was welcomed back to judge more young would-be beauty queens—what does that tell us? And when Carrie’s not atypical California teenager’s sexual/romantic history was exposed for the clear malicious purpose of “slut-shaming” her to retaliate for her refusal to recant on gay marriage, not a single progressive voice rushed to her defense.)

Duck Dynasty’s survival was the first crack in this new and quite literal McCarthyism, the one sign of hope that the new blacklist was not impenetrable, some could seep through.  True, the Robertson’s Duck Dynasty was a monster hit network-sustaining franchise player.  But when the family who would not recant faced down a network whose economic survival depended on this hit franchise, the entertainment industry and its LGBT allies relented: that show at least could go on.

The Benham brothers were in a very different position. Their promising HGTV show concept “Flip it Forward” combined the gentle sibling rivalry of the hit Property Brothers, with the charitable appeal of physically transforming homes for needy families, were only a prospective show, not a megahit.

So when Right Wing Watch decided to target the brothers for being anti-gay and anti-choice “extremists,” HGTV (who knew about the brothers’ evangelical Christian views when they took on the show) immediately caved.

Not so the Benhams:

“The first and last thought on our minds as we begin and end each day is: have we shined Christ’s light today? Our faith is the fundamental calling in our lives, and the centerpiece of who we are. As Christians we are called to love our fellow man. . . .

“Over the last decade, we’ve sold thousands of homes with the guiding principle of producing value and breathing life into each family that has crossed our path, and we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views.

“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.”

Then the final clear stand: “If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”

We are now in media res.  If the Benham brothers are able to survive and flourish as home-building faith-filled reality TV stars, the dark curtain will have lifted a bit. The future will look brighter, new possibilities will open up, whether it is on traditional existing media, or whether we begin to fund and create our own networks of communication.

For as the Benham brothers have made clear, for them, whether or not they are on TV, matters not so much.  For the future of a free, tolerant, and religiously diverse America, it matters a great deal.

If you can help them, (and I know the readers of this list include a surprising variety of highly placed people with access to social, political and financial capital) please let me know.

The contest right now is whether or not the Left and their LGBT allies will successfully redefine mainstream orthodox Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) beliefs as the equivalent of racism.

Or whether we will forge a peculiarly American path to a better, more diverse, and tolerant outcome for us all.



Maggie Gallagher, American Principles Project

P.S. Can you do me one favor?  Can you pass this email on to one friend and ask if they’d like to join our community of Americans willing to stand for marriage, for life, and for religious liberty?

Dr. Bruce Abbey
Dr. Bruce Abbey

Maggie, I think you live in a delusion filtered mental space, rose coloured glasses included that bends the "physics" of reality to your own internal false perception of "truth" one of your very favorite words, to be sure. I have to agree with Straight Grandmother's commentary about living by the "high moral sword meaning that you also have to die by it" Clearly the Benhams have expressed their animus toward the LGBT community, and tried in the past to deprive them of rights and of course push for Amendment One, which law even now is being sued for ensuring the LACK of liberty by Christians who support same sex marriage including Baptist groups as well as Jewish religious groups. These people are very disturbed to find that they are DENIED freedom of religion to support fellow Christians or Jews, who are LGBT and who wish to make a commitment to one another, for life. And nowhere has SSM been shown to negatively impact or damage either heterosexual marriage, or children, not in Massachusetts, Canada, Spain, Holland Belgium, South Africa or elsewhere where it has been in place for a number of years. So that speaks to the ignorance and irrational prejudice of the Benhams, however admirable they may be in some ways, they cannot be role models for youth today, because they are not inclusive, they single out a minority for judgemental treatment that is nowadays seen by the majority of Americans as unfair, and pretty much unconstitutional as well. So sure they can get their show on a conservative christian television network with deep enough pockets to pick up the costs and they will have they limited audience in the echo-chamber world of right wing thinking. But most Americans are better educated, better informed and more tolerant and open to diversity than CBN, 700 Club, or even Fox/Faux etc. and they don't spend much time viewing these narrow minded theme shows. Even with its very wide viewership Fox is the channel for low intellect and low information viewers, and it does not lead them to be better informed. You may have seen today that a principal at Woodrow Wilson High School in D.C. came out, at the age of 50 to his school at the school pride event, and the students embraced him with love acceptance and compassion. Justice Kennedy today, after polling the rest of SCOTUS declined NOM's request to place a stay on SSM in Oregon. There never was an amendment in Pennsylvania so that one has been decided as well. We are waiting for further shoes to drop in Wisconsin, and in time many other states as well. America's well educated judiciary has seen the future, and they see that the future has the support of the majority as well as that fact that it is just, and that equality is demanded, and in particular by the newer generations of Americans, who just don't buy into repressive religious crap. Bakers, florists, photographers, horse drawn carriage purveyors, businesses in Houston, or in Arizona or most anywhere can jolly well leave their bigoted "sincere" beliefs at the door of their local church club of bigoted mental "geniuses", and get on with the civic responsibility to serve all of the public. If they want to deny church membership and support to the gay people, then therein lies their freedom to do so, but not out in the public square or their public accommodation, restaurant, service or other publicly licensed enterprise. Besides, to exclude any group, or minority, is decidedly non Christian behaviour and the large majority of society really do see such behaviour as unworthy and unacceptable. Pray and believe as you wish, but this is a secular civil society. And the past attitudes that got a pass, including slavery, will no longer be tolerated, (unless of course constitutional democracy in America is overthrown by billionaires buying gerrymandered elections, and ramming through an authoritarian plutocracy thinly veiled by a veneer of totally sterile state religion. Brave New World, The Handmaid's Tale and 1984 all combined. Maggie you have been a "culture warrior" and you have been on the wrong side of the war. Period. NOM, which was your creation primarily has done things which you can scarcely be proud of, and has broken laws and intruded where you were not welcomed into the local state "dialogue". You did not have the money to buy all of the votes that happened, not on the scale of the vile Koch brothers. But you had money from secret donors, and thus violated laws. NOM blog is a now free of all comments, since only the choir was allowed to post and others soon got blocked. Blocking out other viewpoints is not a way to arrive at 'truth', with or without so-called love. I heard a rumour that you once wondered out loud whether you might yourself have a gay son, but I don't know whether you actually wondered such a thing. I do see where your son if he were gay would not feel comfortable coming out to you. And I am sure, like every son he loves his mother as every good son does. Mrs. Shlafley has a gay son, which she conveniently handles by not acknowledging that her 'culture war' flies in the face of her family reality, and consequently her own failure to properly love her own child. Many Christians reject their gay child, and throw them out as adolescents. Annise Parker has a son, who is African American, who is gay and was thrown out by his own so-called Christian parents. Annise Parker clearly is winning her "culture war" with compassion, commitment, dignity and grace. Thomas Peters, who I am sure you know very well, is being maintained and cared for by the very Obamacare that he has spit on with disdain, and his wife puts out bitter comments about how they are being badly served by the very program that has saved them from economic catastrophe. NOM seems to have severed ties, finding its pockets to be too diminished I suppose. Thomas is still hateful towards the LGBT community, having learned nothing from the cruel intervention of fate and physics. Maggie, your side was aided enormously in the Bush years by Ken Mehlmann in pushing through anti-SSM amendments in so many states. But then he had an epiphany. As a rich Republican, he acknowledged that he was in fact gay, and had done enormous damage to the human rights of his own fellows. So he has been partially forgiven, but he can never really make up for all the damage he helped engineer. You hold that you are civil, and all but the only people who come here to dialogue with you in any meaningful way are people like myself and Straight Grandmother. Of course we have many many LGBT friends and they have suffered, both in Canada and the United States. And we are waiting for Maggie Gallagher's personal epiphany. Some will extend a little compassion your way, if and when it comes, and others very little, understandably. George Wallace has an epiphany too in the end. But he was the problem. He was in the way of equality. Just as you have been. Time to take off the rose coloured glasses Maggie. Don't wait until you are 88 years old, and all your self delusions have fallen away. Perhaps your personal God will forgive you in the fullness of your repentance, but others will never forget what you did to hurt them and their precious and much loved families, including their gay and lesbian children, friends, co-workers, bosses, teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, volunteers, council members, artists, intellectuals, inventors, ... of all races, including practicing Christians, Mormons, Jews, Islamic believers, Buddhists, and non-believers as well. If you have grandchildren after all, they will not be fighting for or against LGBT rights, since those rights are coming much sooner than their age of majority. And they may not wish, 30 years from now, to acknowledge to others their connection to "the rather notorious grandmother". And after all you are a famous woman, and yes you will be documented in many sources and will long be controversial. Still I wish you the possibility of the love of grandchildren, and also that you refrain from trying to indoctrinate them instead of letting them discover the world with their own minds and eyes and ears. They will in their generation be fighting to save the planet from overpopulation, drought, climate change, hunger and disease. The real mandate of Jesus Christ to humanity.

Alan Drake
Alan Drake

One phrase caught my attention ""...successfully redefine mainstream orthodox Christian ... beliefs as the equivalent of racism." Mainstream Christian theology WAS racist. The Southern Baptist Convention (which I was raised in) split from the American Baptists in order to defend their Divine Right to own , buy and sell slaves. There was no mainstream Christian interest in preserving slave families, or limiting the punishment that masters could inflict on them, or requiring a minimal diet - much less eliminating the moral evil of slavery. Frederick Douglas recounts attending an integrated abolitionist church where the Negros were served communion after all the whites were. Even some Quakers, generally the most progressive and truest Christians (not being "mainstream") and my current fellowship, once wrote racist comments, even as they ran the Underground Railroad. So yes, equating homophobia with racism should not be protecting by use of outdated, and simply wrong, theology. "Mainstream Christians" were "recently" disgustingly racist# - and some are still homophobic. # As a child I sat in the pew of the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa as Dr. Randall (who later taught at a Baptist seminary) said not one word as Baptist (and AME) churches within 50 and 100 miles were firebombed, or shotguns blew out stained glass windows. Nor did he say a word when three children were killed by a bomb in a Baptist church 65 miles from his pulpit. Why now should I respect the moral authority of that very same pulpit if it should preach in favor of denying civil rights to gays/LGBT ? They can preach as they want, but their earlier racism has lost the moral standing, and respect in the commons, of the Religious Right. They were wrong on racism - they are wrong on homophobia.


"-“slut-shaming” her to retaliate for her refusal to recant on gay marriage, not a single progressive voice rushed to her defense.-" Listen, you live by the high moral sword, you die by the high moral sword. Miss Prejean claimed that Civil Marriage for Sexual Minorities did not pass her Moral Benchmark, therefor when her Unmarried sex video surfaced she was rightly called Pot-Kettle-Black. Therefore nobody on the left was going to come to the defense of that hypocrisy. I wonder is Miss Prejean appreciates Maggie Gallagher claiming her as a victim of the Culture war and reminding people of this very embarrassing episode in her life. Mrs. Gallagher, don't you think Miss Prejean would rather you STOP bringing this up, thus driving people who are unaware (and this was many years ago the incident happened) driving people to go Google it? Sadly Maggie Gallagher will not let her forget it and move on. With friends like Maggie Gallagher, who needs enemies. Now onto the main topic of the article. Sexual Minorities will continue to apply social pressure towards anyone who stands in the way of their EQUAL Civil Rights. Just as the racial segregationists of the past few decades were shouted down and publicly repudiated so to in this generation we will shout down anyone who would deny Equal Civil Rights for sexual minorities. It is perfectly acceptable to disagree with homosexuality, but no one may use their religious beliefs to thrawrt the rights of other citizens. We are winning and we are going to keep on winning.