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This homophobic preacher and failed TV host risked spreading coronavirus to protest an abortion clinic

Nick Duffy April 7, 2020
Anti-gay preacher David Benham is attempting to make the least welcome comeback of 2020

Anti-gay preacher David Benham is attempting to make the least welcome comeback of 2020

Anti-gay preacher, failed TV host and professional martyr David Benham has been arrested for violating the coronavirus lockdown to stage a protest outside an abortion clinic.

Benham is best-known for being dropped as the host of a planned HGTV house flipping show back in 2014, when it emerged that he and twin brother Jason are both anti-LGBT+ activists who have protested Pride events and compared gay weddings to Nazi Germany.

The Benhams subsequently enjoyed a full five minutes as the martyred poster boys of the evangelical anti-LGBT+ movement – comparing their experience of being sacked to that of people murdered by ISIS.

But even far-right fame fades eventually, and clearly desperate times call for some extremely desperate measures.

David Benham has a great idea to propel himself back into the spotlight.

David Benham made his latest attempt to propel himself back into the spotlight on Saturday – after intentionally violating the coronavirus lockdown to stage an anti-choice protest in Charlotte, North Carolina, which was reportedly attended by around 50 people.

In a strangely high-quality video of the incident uploaded by Benham – shot, we assume, by a friendly neighbourhood cameraman who was definitely not there for any cynical reason – the preacher insisted to police officers that his protest constitutes an “essential” business which should be permitted during the lockdown.

He tells the police: “We are an essential, federally-recognised non-profit charity… we are within our rights to be here.”

Unsurprisingly, his claim that a mob of 50 fundamentalists shouting at people accessing healthcare is somehow compatible to businesses providing food and medicine did not wash – and the preacher was among eight people arrested by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for refusing to leave the gathering.

David Benham and his brother Jason Benham were dropped as TV hosts in 2014 over their anti-gay beliefs
David Benham and his brother Jason Benham were dropped as TV hosts in 2014 over their anti-gay beliefs

He told WBTV: “I believe that taking a stand like this is crucial right now because the government does not have unlimited power even in the midst of a really dangerous health crisis.”

The preacher now says his group will continue to show up and protest despite the arrests – as he rushed to do the far-right media rounds.

He told the Daily Caller website that his group was the victim of “viewpoint discrimination” against “conservative voices” in the city – though we’re not aware of any unsanctioned Pride marches being permitted to break the law

Ted Cruz decided to wade into the row, because of course he did.

Benham’s years-long quest to paint himself as a martyr continues to be paying off dividends with Republican senator Ted Cruz.

He tweeted: “My friend David Benham was unconstitutionally arrested today in NC for peacefully providing pregnancy counselling outside an abortion clinic.

“This is an unconstitutional arrest. @BenhamBrothers exercising core First Amendment rights. PEACEFULLY. In a way fully consistent w/ public safety. Because elected Dems are pro-abortion, they are abusing their power – in a one-sided way – to silence pregnancy counsellors.”

An editorial by the Charlotte Observer has since masterfully rebutted the cynical intervention, questioning if Cruz “couldn’t be bothered to do a little homework before popping off his outrage tweet”.

The newspaper explained: “Constitutional freedoms, including speech, are not absolute. They’re weighted against public health and safety considerations, and courts have long had no problem with [coronavirus] restrictions like those in North Carolina and other states so long as they are applied and enforced evenly and are justified by the public interest. Last month, a New Hampshire court ruled that a coronavirus-related ban on gatherings was a permissible restriction on free assembly.

“Cruz, who graduated from Harvard Law School, should know this. It’s pretty likely he does know this. His support of the abortion protesters was a political pantomime, not a serious legal opinion. It was a cheap play for fist pumps, but it comes with a cost. By declaring that people can violate public health restrictions if they feel strongly about something, Cruz dilutes those orders in Charlotte and everywhere else.”

More: abortion, Anti-gay, Coronavirus, Coronavirus lockdown, David Benham, Homophobia, Ted Cruz

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