Soulforce Commends Closing of “Ex-Gay” Ministry Exodus International

After almost forty years, Exodus International has closed its doors. It was the oldest Christian services organization of its type and the market leader in reparative/ex-gay/sexual orientation change therapy. Soulforce, an interfaith organization that works to free lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people from religious and political oppression, acknowledges Exodus International Executive Director Alan Chambers’ apology to the LGBTQ community and welcomes his decision to shutter the organization.

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director of Soulforce said, “The closing of one of the major engines of LGBTQ oppression is an affirmation of Soulforce’s work of more than 15 years. The goal of all Soulforce actions has always been reconciliation rather than ‘victory.’ Alan Chambers’ heart was softened by the actions of thousands of advocates and the stories of suffering of families hurt by Exodus. Faced with this overwhelming evidence of the damage Exodus has caused, Chambers and the Exodus board took the only humane course of action available to them — they shut the organization down.

“It is our hope that other ex-gay organizations like Restored Hope Network, Genesis Counseling, Evergreen International, and Desert Stream Ministries will take the only humane course of action available to them, and shutter their organizations as well. We hope that Alan Chambers and former Exodus International board members will now dedicate themselves to eradicating ex-gay therapy around the world.”

Opposition to so-called “reparative therapy,” which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity has been central to Soulforce’s mission since its founding by former religious right ghostwriter and Exodus member Rev. Dr. Mel White in 1998. All of White’s books on the religious right have addressed the tragic consequences of the false claims of organizations like Exodus International, Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conferences, and NARTH, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

As an organization, Soulforce has worked relentlessly to oppose the notion that LGBTQ people are in any way “sick” or “sinful,” and has asked all religious people to join them in rejecting “ministries” intended to change God-given expressions of sexuality and gender identity.

Rev. Dr. Love said the closing of Exodus was, “A good start. And not nearly enough. I hope that Chambers will find it in his heart to confront any ministry in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are targeted for ‘fixing,’ ‘inclusion,’ ‘affirmation’ or ‘reconciliation.’ God already included us, affirmed us and reconciled us. And we don’t need fixing.”

Soulforce is committed to freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people from religious and political oppression through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to

Ellen, the Pill, and Fake Christians – Tuesday News

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– The birth control pill is celebrating 50 years of giving women control over their own bodies – but that doesn’t mean everyone wants the pill to stick around. A conglomeration of anti-abortion groups will protest the pill on June 5. Not because they oppose contraception because it prevents pregnancy – but because it harms the environment. Who knew these folks were such tree-huggers?

– American Idol ratings are apparently headed downward – but don’t blame the bad singers and performers. It’s all Ellen DeGeneres’ fault, because she likes girls instead of boys and God can’t let a program succeed with a lesbian on it – like, say, a popular daytime talk show.

– Bryan Fischer at the American Family Association is one scary dude. He thinks Jesus was a capitalist and would sign Arizona’s immigration law “in a heartbeat.” Now, he’s doing the scripture twist on Numbers 25 to advocate killing anyone he considers “sexually immoral” – like, y’know, gay people. So much for that “love your neighbor as yourself” crap.

– Rick Warren tells “fake Christians” to get out of his church. Good news for Warren, all that property Saddleback owns should fetch a nice price for him to retire on.

-Posted by Candace Chellew-Hodge

APA Rejects “Ex-Gay” Therapy

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First, the good news – the American Psychological Association has repudiated so-called “ex-gay” therapies that purport to change gay people into straight people.

“Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,” said Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the task force.

“Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.”

Glassgold added: “At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions.”

The APA is to be applauded for this statement. They came to this conclusion after reviewing all the evidence from “ex-gay” therapies over the years and found none of the research convincing – something the LGBT community has been saying for years. Thanks for catching up, APA!

The bad news is, however, that the APA has caved a bit to the “ex-gay” proponents by providing a way for therapists to ethically lead gays and lesbians away from acting on their homosexuality if the client sees it as a conflict with their religious beliefs.

As part of its report, the task force identified that some clients seeking to change their sexual orientation may be in distress because of a conflict between their sexual orientation and religious beliefs. The task force recommended that licensed mental health care providers treating such clients help them “explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality, respect the client’s religious beliefs, and consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life.”

“In other words,” Glassgold said, “we recommend that psychologists be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality.”

So, the APA is telling their people — be upfront that therapy won’t change your sexual orientation — but go right ahead and help your client to repress it in the name of their God.

In case it’s not clear from that last paragraph that the APA is affirming this, Glassgold clarified this new policy in the Wall Street Journal: “We’re not trying to encourage people to become ‘ex-gay’. But we have to acknowledge that, for some people, religious identity is such an important part of their lives, it may transcend everything else.”

That’s very disappointing. Instead, the APA should educate itself on how sexuality and spirituality can be reconciled instead of one or the other being dropped or denied. This is not an “either/or” situation but can be a “both/and” situation. There are plenty of gay and lesbian people who have reconciled their sexuality and spirituality and we’re not all flaming religious liberals.

In fact, some of the leading gay Christian groups are flaming evangelicals as belied in their titles like “The Evangelical Network” and “Evangelicals Concerned Western Region.”

Here’s a note to the APA – change is possible – you can change this horrible policy by educating yourself on how to move gays and lesbians to reconcile spirituality and sexuality instead of leading them down a primrose path to repression in the name of God.

CA Prop 8 Ruling – Some Comments

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More Light Presbyterians:

It is incredulous that legal, equal and civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their families were not protected by either the Court or the electorate in a state within a country that is committed to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all of its citizens.

As people of faith and Christians committed to justice, equality and ending discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in both Church and society, while we lament the failure of the state court to maintain marriage equality in California, we are absolutely committed to continue our work for justice. Through PEP, the Presbyterian Equality Project, we will continue to work for marriage equality in civil society as we work for marriage equality within the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Marriage is an equal right, not a heterosexual privilege. We are grateful that a growing number of Christians and citizens are recognizing that love is not restricted by gender and that God’s gift of love is bestowed upon same gender loving couples in addition to opposite gender couples. Everyone has the right to be part of a family.

with hope and grace,
Michael Adee

Integrity reaction:

LOS ANGELES–Integrity joins with those around the nation who express profound disappointment in the California Supreme Court’s abdication of its responsibility to offer equal protection to all California citizens in today’s decision regarding Proposition 8.

“This morning we saw justice both denied and delayed,” said Integrity President Susan Russell. “Today’s ruling by the California Supreme Court does not just affect the lives of same-sex couples hoping to live happily ever after with the love of their life; it sets a terrible precedent that a simple majority of voters can relegate millions of citizens to second class status. Until ‘liberty and justice for all’ really means ‘all’ we are not yet the nation we are called to be and today was a sad step backward on that arc of history that generations of equality leaders have told us bends toward justice.”

Russell continued, “It is a decision that is not only antithetical to the core American values of liberty and justice for all, it flies in the face of the core Christian commitment to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is a decision that grieves the heart of God, violates core values of both our faith and our founding fathers, and puts the State of California on the wrong side of history on the issue of marriage equality. It is a decision that should not and will not stand.”

“As the mother of a son in uniform,” said Russell, “I find it deeply ironic that our Supreme Court would issue an opinion allowing discrimination to be written into our statutes the day after a national holiday dedicated to the memory of the brave men and women who have given their lives to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic–to preserve for their fellow citizens the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“Integrity will work, pray, and advocate for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments within the Episcopal Church and work with our California Faith for Equality allies toward marriage equality in California as we continue our 35-year history of giving voice to the LGBT faithful within the Episcopal Church and from the church to the world.”

Soulforce reaction:

“My husband and I were married on Zuma Beach in Malibu on June 17, 2008, with our three children and a dozen close friends by our side. We cried our way through our vows, and sang James Taylor’s ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ with everyone who came to love and support us,” said Jeff Lutes, Soulforce Executive Director. “We are heartbroken for all those couples in California, and around the country, who have been denied the fundamental right to marry the person they love. But today’s ruling does absolutely nothing to weaken our resolve. We are more determined than ever – we will win full civil equality under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people – make no mistake about it. We must continue to expose and resist the direct link between religious dogma and the attack on our human rights.”

Freedom to Marry reacts:

“The California Supreme Court today failed to uphold the core principle of American constitutional government that a simple majority may not selectively vote away a fundamental right from a minority targeted for invidious, suspect reasons,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People’s Right to Marry. “It is now going to be up to the people of California to undo Prop 8’s discriminatory misstep through a ballot-measure in 2012 or sooner. The Prop 8 campaign is over; the campaign to restore the freedom to marry and remove this blemish on the constitution and cruel hardship on California’s gay couples and their families is now underway.”

HRC reacts:

The California Supreme Court ruling brings bitter news: Proposition 8 will stand.

We will work relentlessly, organizing communities of faith and other allies across the state, until Prop. 8 is repealed. It will take major resources to win — but the momentum of history is on our side.

While we take some solace that the loving couples who did marry in California will stay married, an estimated one million more individuals have been denied that dignity and right.
We are heartbroken. But we won’t back down.

And posts a video:

All But Marriage in Washington State

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Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire has signed a law expanding rights to gay and lesbian domestic partners.

Surrounded by about 300 people — most of them gay and lesbian couples and their children — Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday signed legislation giving registered same-sex domestic partners all the rights and benefits that Washington now offers married couples.

The legislation expands on previous domestic-partnership laws by adding such partnerships to all remaining areas of state law that now address only married couples.

The measure also extends coverage to unmarried heterosexual couples when one person is at least 62.

As of Monday, there were 5,395 registered domestic partners, representing every county in the state.

The anti-equality folks are already working to gather enough signatures for a referendum to repeal the measure.

They will then have about 60 days — until July 25 — to collect 120,577 signatures. If they are successful, the law would be suspended until voters decide the referendum.

Several gay-rights advocacy groups, through a campaign called Decline 2 Sign, are seeking to raise money to turn back the challenge.

It’s amazing to me that anti-gay groups will spend tons of time and money – and force us to spend tons of time and money – to make sure we can’t visit our loved one in the hospital or get their social security or secure our property together or gain any of the other rights of marriage. Jesus, who had a lot to say about divorce, but nothing to say about gays and lesbians , would rather see these people spending their time clothing the naked and feeding the poor – but that’s boring work. It’s way more fun to make other human beings suffer for your bigotry than it is to improve the lives of others and celebrate love wherever we can find it.

Friday News Roundup

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– New Hampshire is set to become the sixth state to enact marriage equality. Governor says he’ll sign a bill with extra religious protections:

Gov. John Lynch said Thursday he will sign a bill to make his state the sixth to legalize gay marriage as soon as the Legislature makes some changes, which legislative leaders immediately said they would back.

Lynch asked that the already-approved legislation be revised to better protect churches and their employees against lawsuits if their beliefs preclude them from marrying gays. Gay marriage supporters said they do not object.

It’s a ridiculous provision, but if it makes the religious right feel better, I’m all for it.

– President Obama has said he’s a “fierce supporter” of LGBT rights. So far, I haven’t seen much ferocity – and neither has Andrew Sullivan:

Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).

And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada.

And the excuses are maddening: We have to fix the economy first! Hello! Ever hear of multi-tasking Mr. President. It’s not all that tough to toss this issue into the mix.

– South Carolina is working to pass law on teen dating violence – but leaves out gay kids on purpose. Apparently straight kids beat the hell out of each other more than gay kids.

– Religious right says the notion of a “gay gene” has been dealt a “knockout punch” by new APA brochure. The problem? The brochure came out in 2008 and does nothing of the sort. File under: “quotes seeking a story.”

– How about a black woman judge on the US Supreme Court? Not so fast, say some gay rights folks:

Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, considered a potential nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, has drawn criticism from gay rights groups after announcing plans to join a think tank whose founder is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage.

Sears, the nation’s first black female chief justice of a state supreme court, announced this week she will join the New York-based Institute for American Values when she retires June 30…

In announcing her future plans, Sears said her role at the institute would build on her work with the Georgia Supreme Court toward “strengthening the institution of marriage” by working to reduce the nation’s divorce rate.

Gay rights advocates, who enthusiastically supported Sears’ re-election bid against a conservative in 2004, said they felt betrayed that she will be working part-time for the New York-based think tank.

Here’s hoping it’s all a moot point …

Have a great weekend!

NY Inches Closer to Marriage Equality

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The New York Assembly passed a gay marriage bill today on a vote of 89 – 52.

Four weeks after Governor Paterson announced plans to introduce a gay marriage bill in New York, it passed its first vote today. Since that day, when the governor called his state’s lack of gay marriage a “crisis of leadership,” many factions have weighed in. On one side, State Senator Ruben Diaz, who called for the governor’s resignation, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who promised an “active and present” battle. On the other side, several thousand activists who flooded the state capitol to support gay rights, many secular and sectarian groups, and the New York State populace itself, which is in support of the bill by a 53% to 39% margin.

The next stop is the Senate where it faces a tough vote.

One of the best quotes comes from Republican Joel Miller:

“I hope that I will be the first of many Republicans who stand and say I support this bill. Throughout the animal kingdom we see homosexual behavior. There was never an advantage to be gay. It’s not gay to be gay. No one knows the size of the gay community, but it includes our family… We all remember when clearly the earth was flat, the sun revolved around the earth, it had to be that way because religion told us.”

Maine Makes it Five!

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The Great State of Maine has become the fifth state to recognize marriage equality for gays and lesbians! Gov. Jim Baldacci signed the legislation into law today:

“I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage,” said Baldacci, a Democrat.

But he raised the possibility that the residents of the state would overturn the law, saying, “Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the State belongs to the people.”

Hopefully such a thing won’t happen and Maine will remain a state that does not discriminate based on sexual orientation.

New Hampshire is considering a similar bill, and Washington, DC’s council voted to recognize same-sex marriages from other states and countries.

Gays and lesbians can now be legally married in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine!

All in all, it’s stacking up to be some good progress for marriage equality. Watch for the mass right wing head explosion in 3, 2, …

Setback for Presby Gay Clergy

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Gay clergy in the Presbyterian Church will have to wait for yet another round of voting before they’ll be approved for ordination. A presbytery vote on removing the prohibition against gay clergy has failed – but by a closer margin than the last time a vote was held.

“The big story here is that many traditionally conservative areas of the country voted to accept gay clergy and lay officers in the church,” Tricia Dykers Koenig, national organizer for the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, said in the Dallas Morning News. “Our image of what it means to be created in the image of God is broadening.”

It’s only a matter of time before gays and lesbians will grace the pulpits of Presbyterian churches. The tide is turning!

Marriage Equality Support on the Rise

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Despite the ridiculous fear mongering of those opposed to marriage equality for same-gender partners, the population at large gets it. A new NY Times/CBS poll shows the highest support yet for marriage equality – 42 percent now support it, up from just 33 percent last month:

Twenty-eight percent say same sex couples should have no legal recognition — down from 35 percent in March — while 25 percent support civil unions, but not marriage, for gay couples.

As has historically been the case on this issue, liberals are more likely to support same sex marriage. Sixty-nine percent support the idea, while conservatives generally favor either civil unions (28 percent) or no legal recognition (44 percent).

That means 67 percent support either marriage equality or civil unions for LGBT people. If that doesn’t denote a tipping point on this issue, I’m not sure what will! Great news!