Kirk Cameron is fighting back against the "hate speech" he feels he's endured since calling homosexuality "unnatural," "detrimental," and "ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization" during a Friday appearance on "Piers Morgan Tonight" to promote his new film, " Monumental."
In an email statement released exclusively to ABCNews.com today, Cameron said that when Morgan asked him to share his views on homosexuality, "I spoke as honestly as I could, but some people believe my responses were not loving toward those in the gay community. That is not true. I can assuredly say that it's my life's mission to love all people."
"I should be able to express moral views on social issues," he said, "especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years - without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach 'tolerance' that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I'm in the public square."
He concluded, "I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect," and added, "I've been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally)."
Cameron's "Growing Pains" co-stars Tracey Gold and Alan Thicke have spoken out against his comments, along with many other celebrities. Over the weekend, GLAAD launched a petition called Tell Kirk Cameron It's Time to Finally Grow Up. It had more than 5,500 signatures this afternoon.
GLAAD spokesman Herndon Graddick released an email statement to ABCNews.com in response to Cameron's latest comments: "Saying that gay people are 'detrimental to civilization' might be 'loving' in Kirk Cameron's mind, but it's gay youth and victims of bullying who truly suffer from adults like Cameron who espouse these ideas."
"Obviously, Cameron has the right to recite his anti-gay talking points," Graddick added, "just like fair-minded Americans have the right to tell him that his views are harmful and have no place in modern America."