Much is being made of HGTV's decision to cancel a previously announced new series, "Flip it Forward," because its stars, twin brothers David and Jason Benham, had expressed their faith-based, pro-life values and belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
Many in the media have called their beliefs anti-gay and similar to race-based bigotry.
Look… HGTV is a private entity that can make whatever decision it chooses regarding its network and business operations, however, it has become extremely disturbing to me that media personalities and social groups have equated the Benham brother's support for traditional marriage to racism.
The same race/gay comparisons were made after the firing of Mozilla CEO, Brendan Eich, who supported California's Proposition 8 campaign to not redefine marriage.
News flash for the media and America: race and ethnicity are not the same as sexual behavior and sexual orientation.
I am a registered Democrat, I love gays, I have gays in my family, and I value tolerance and inclusion, but the national dialogue regarding gay rights, abortion, and free speech have gone way overboard.
I am also a pastor who unapologetically teaches a biblical understanding of marriage and the sanctity of life.
There are millions of religious Americans, like me, who love gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and love women who've had abortions, but believe that heterosexual relationships are biologically, physiologically, and spiritually unique and therefore should be reserved for the union identification of marriage and that life begins at conception.
Our views should be respected.
Societal structures exist throughout our culture and I believe heterosexual unions should be one of those structures that are preserved for marriage between a man and woman.
Homosexual relationships should be defined in another way. This belief is not bigotry. This is not hate. This is a deeply held belief that many hold because of faith, and should be tolerated and respected. After all… true tolerance is accepting people's beliefs and convictions, even if they don't line up with yours.
The argument that race and sexual orientation are the same is like comparing apples and oranges. Just because civil rights for gays and ethnic cultures have been debated in public policy doesn't make them the same.
Ethnicity and race refer to skin color and cultural background. Race is also publicly known. When I walk into a room, everyone knows that I am African-American.
However, sexuality, including homosexuality and heterosexuality, refers to intimate personal behaviors.
Ethnicity and sexuality is clearly not the same. Being black and being gay is not the same. So, this argument should not be used for justification or criticism in the national conversation regarding gay rights.
Thankfully, our nation has moved away from its hateful past regarding slavery, and we rightly speak out against discrimination. But holding to traditional marriage is not discriminatory; it is respectful of an important societal structure that has been recognized throughout our world's entire history. For example, I'm not allowed to use the women's restroom… that rule isn't discriminatory; it is respectful of a societal system and structure.
One cable news anchor recently responded to an interview with the Benham brothers, shaking her head in disapproval, responding, "love they neighbor, as thyself." It is the ignorant misuse of Bible, like this, that has led to anti-religious coercion, bullying and intimidation. You can both love gays and still hold to the belief that marriage should be withheld for a man and woman.
America's First Amendment gives us the right to disagree on marriage and abortion, so we should learn to coexist and live together in harmony.
One of the reasons that makes the United States so great is our "big tent" philosophy and respect for diversity of opinion and faith.
I'd personally like for everyone to be a Christian, but that doesn't mean that I criticize those who don't agree with me.
Openly gay journalist Andrew Sullivan said it best in response to the Mozilla firing, "The guy who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000 has just been scalped by some gay activists… The whole episode disgusts me - as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society."
It is my First Amendment right to live out my faith-based conviction on marriage and abortion, and I would ask the media and the nation to be tolerant of me and the millions of other Christians who share my belief.
As an African-American, it is offensive that race and sexual orientation is erroneously compared to vilify people of faith and suppress our First Amendment rights.
This column was originally posted on Fox News.