No, SunTrust Did Not Drop The Benham Brothers Over Their Anti-Gay Views
Earlier today, The Daily Caller published an article claiming that SunTrust Bank had cut ties with David and Jason Benham's real estate company over their anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-Islam activism, with the Benhams asserting that this was the latest development in the on-going effort to "silence" them:
First they lost their television show. Now the Benham brothers say they are losing their business.
SunTrust Banks is cutting ties with would-be reality stars David and Jason Benham after liberal activists attacked them for their conservative views on abortion and gay marriage, The Daily Caller has learned.
In a statement provided first to TheDC on Friday, the Benham brothers confirmed that SunTrust Banks has pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property business, which includes several franchisees across four states.
The move comes just a week after HGTV announced it was canceling a planned home renovation show hosted by the brothers.
“If our faith costs us our HGTV show and our business, then so be it,” said Jason Benham on Friday.
“We were caught off-guard with this one,” David Benham said of SunTrust’s actions. “Keeping us off television wasn’t enough, now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace.”
The Benhams, in their statement, said the news came “without warning or explanation from SunTrust and took place over a 15 minute period” on Thursday. The Brothers said they have had a “mutually productive working relationship with SunTrust for many years” and hold a ”preferred broker” status with the bank.
The brothers said they contacted SunTrust, but bank employees declined to explain the reasoning for what happened.
Reached for comment by TheDC on Friday, SunTrust corporate spokesman Mike McCoy would not say whether the Benhams’ political views impacted their decision.
“We continuously review our supplier relationships and changes to the list of companies we rely on for services is a natural part of our business, however we do not publicly comment on specific vender relationships,” McCoy told TheDC.
In their statement, the Benhams said they “recognize SunTrust’s right to hire or fire any real estate broker they choose but do not support the decision” to fire independent franchisees that are associated with them. Many of these franchisees, they said, “do not hold the same beliefs” they do.
“As Americans we find ourselves at a crossroads and are forced with a decision to either stand up or sit down,” David Benham said. “Evidently, SunTrust’s longstanding commitment to diversity must not include our historic Christian values.”
You will notice that, in the article, SunTrust refused to comment on the reasoning behind the decision, noting simply that it routinely changes the companies with which it works as part of its standard business practices.
That, of course, merely allowed the Benhams to spin this decision as evidence of their never-ending persecution, resulting in the slanted Daily Caller article that presented their claims as fact.
In response, SunTrust has now issued a statement of its own, clarifying that the Daily Caller article "is inaccurate" and that the decision at issue was made by a third party vendor:
SunTrust supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion.
Mid-2013, we consolidated the management of certain residential assets with a third party vendor, which has the relationship with Benham. While we do not publicly comment on specific vendor relationships, we don’t make choices on suppliers nor base business decisions on political factors, nor do we direct our third party vendors to do so.
The characterization in the media with respect to this matter is inaccurate. We are contacting our third party supplier who works with Benham to clarify our policies.
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