Gay groups are asking questions – and finding answers – about Republican presidential nominee John McCain's VP choice, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. Most are unhappy with their findings.

The number two choice is carefully analyzed by the campaign to ensure maximum benefit to their ticket. In the case of Palin, McCain operatives are betting on her conservative record and Christian background to increase the ticket's appeal to Christian conservative voters.

And that plan appears to be working; conservative Republicans in general appear to be euphoric with the choice.

“I think Sarah Palin is the smartest thing that John McCain has done. She has revitalized the grass roots of the Republican Party across the board, all segments,” conservative Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Gay groups, however, are troubled by Palin, calling her anti-gay record “frightening.”

Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights group, posted a blog entry on their website critical of Palin's gay positions. HRC pointed to answers Palin provided to the Alaska Eagle Forum's 2006 gubernatorial questionnaire, where she said that she did not support hate crimes laws or spousal benefits for gay couples, and that one of her top family priorities would be “preserving the definition of 'marriage' as defined in our constitution.” In 1998 the voters of Alaska passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state.

“Most Americans support treating our LGBT loved ones and neighbors with respect, and support their full inclusion into our national experience,” said Steve Ralls, communications director for pro-gay group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), of Palin's equality record. “From Anchorage to Albany, and everywhere in between, there are real families who feel the real impact of policies that leave the LGBT community behind.”

Palin has also been linked to several anti-gay groups.

She and anti-gay Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) were recently honored at a Republican National Convention event, which was sponsored in part by long-time gay-rights opponent, and Eagle Forum president, Phyllis Schlafly.

Concern has also been expressed over Palin's involvement with – or knowledge of – her church's promotion of an ex-gay conference scheduled in Anchorage next week.

An insert in the bulletin of the Wassilla Bible Church, where Palin has prayed for about six years, says, “You'll be encouraged by the power of God's love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality,” according to a The Associated Press report.

The conference, called Love Won Out, is being organized by James Dobson's conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family. The group says they help people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions through religious means, including group discussions, counseling, Bible reading and prayer.

“We are deeply concerned that Sarah Palin may share the extreme and medically unsound view that gay and lesbian people can and should be cured,” said Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Outs, a gay group that advocates against ex-gay ministries. “We call on Palin to express her views on this issue so we have a clear idea on where she stands. We hope this is an area where she disagrees with her church.”

HRC President Joe Solmonese had harsher words for the governor: “Sarah Palin is against recognizing our relationships, against domestic partner benefits, and against hate crimes laws. ... The more we find out about her record, the more frightening her record becomes.”