“We don’t discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows,” the network said in a statement sent to Deadline. “HGTV is proud to have a crystal clear, consistent record of including people from all walks of life in its series.”
The statement comes more than two years after HGTV scrapped plans for a new series called Flip It Forward, when a report emerged identifying one of its stars, David Benham as an activist against gay marriage and abortion. That move, in May of 2014, came after Right Wing Watch — a project of People For the American Way — reported David Benham had, among other things, led protests outside abortion clinics during which he praised demonstrators for taking a stand “at the gates of hell,” compared the Christian church’s unwillingness to “stand up to” the gay “agenda” to the strategy of appeasing the Nazis in Germany, and made statements against Muslims.
Buzzfeed has not been able to ascertain whether Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines take a “hard line” against same-sex marriage and promote converting LGBT people into being straight – only that they belong to the Antioch Community Church, a nondenominational, evangelical, mission-based megachurch whose pastor, Jimmy Seiert, describes the Gaineses as “dear friends” and does take those positions, the web site reports.
“So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers?” the site is left “wondering,” because emails to HGTV reps were not returned, nor were emails sent to the public relations director at the couple’s company, Magnolia. That company includes an shop in Waco, Texas where fans come to buy Gaines-ian merchandise, as well as a real estate company, a paint line, a furniture line, and a magazine.
Buzzfeed notes the HGTV series is loved by Christians, but also by feminists and LGBT viewers, by way of explaining why, in the absence of a response from reps, the site is looking at the church.
The Buzzfeed article appears to be playing catch-up with a month-old post on Vox Media’s Curbed.com. That article previously noted Chip and Joanna are longtime members of the Antioch Community Church, which condemns same-sex marriage and also supports a local anti-abortion pregnancy center. The Curbed post pondered what would happen should a gay couple apply to have a home renovated by the Gaineses which, Curbed reports, has not happened to date. A so-called Christian writer is quoted in that piece saying, “My hope would be, if they are given that situation, they will just love on [the gay couple],” though she imagined that some of the show’s very conservative Christians might take issue.
The Curbed piece noted how HGTV is taking incoming from both sides on this issue, quoting another conservative Christians blogger who blasted the Gaines family, writing: “If there is a babysitter on scene because mommy is working late a lot, and fast food, and daddy taking on roles he is not biblically mandated to, then that is not putting Christ first.”