Gay groups are outraged over a
scheduled ex-gay conference supported by Republican Vice Presidential
nominee Governor Sarah Palin's church that aims to “cure” gays
and lesbians of their sexuality.
The conference, called Love Won Out,
takes place on Saturday at Abbott Loop Community Church in Anchorage
and is being organized by James Dobson's conservative Christian
organization Focus on the Family. Promoters of the conference say
being gay is a choice.
“Love Won Out speakers are
bold enough to challenge the dominant 'born gay' view. We believe
men and women have the right to manage their sexuality according to
their faith,” said Focus on the Family's gender and sexuality
department director Melissa Fryrear in a press release for the event.
“We reject the notion that men and women are bound by genetics to
Focus on the Family says they help
people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions through religious
means, including group discussions, counseling, Bible reading and
prayer. Speakers at the conference, who, like Fryrear, used to
self-identify as gay, share their stories of how they overcame
Truth Wins Out, a
pro-gay group that advocates against ex-gay ministries, said they
will travel to Anchorage to oppose the conference, but revealed few
“We appear wherever Focus on the
Family spreads lies and fear,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director
of Truth Wins Out. “Love Won Out distorts gay life and
conflates stereotypes with science, while selling false hope to
vulnerable people. We are looking forward to working with Alaskan
advocacy groups to counter Focus on the Family's false and
Anchorage is about thirty miles from
Sarah Palin's hometown of Wasilla. And concern has been expressed
over Palin's involvement with – or knowledge of – her church's
promotion of the ex-gay conference.
An insert in the bulletin of the
Wasilla 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 report by The Associated Press.
“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 Besen. “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.”
grandmother-to-be has energized Christian conservatives, who were
tepid to Senator John McCain's campaign before he named her to the
ticket. She opposes gay marriage and spousal rights for gay couples.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) condemned
the ex-gay conference and said their Alaska chapter was making plans
to gather outside the conference to offer support for youth
win at Love Won Out,” said Jane Schlittler, president of
PFLAG's Anchorage chapter. “The conference's organizers
maliciously target often well-meaning parents who are dealing with a
difficult issue in their lives, and in the process put their kids'
well-being at risk. Make no mistake: There is far more 'preying'
than 'praying' taking place at these meetings, and far more harming
than healing in the doctrine of Love Won Out.”
On the net: Truth
Wins Out website is at www.truthwinsout.org.
PFLAG national can be reached at www.pflag.org.