While the case has yet to go to trial, a judge today rejected the ‘ex-gay’ organization’s request to limit damages.

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A New Jersey Superior Court judge today rejected an “ex-gay” group’s motion to limit damages in a lawsuit brought by former clients, meaning the group could be liable for three times what the clients paid for subsequent counseling to undo the harm caused by so-called reparative therapy.

Four former clients and two of their parents, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and private attorneys, filed the suit in 2012 against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, also known as JONAH, along with its founder and a counselor employed by the group. The suit charges that JONAH violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by claiming its services could change people from gay to straight. This type of therapy has been discredited by every major medical and mental health organization.

In his opinion today, Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. “held that costs for legitimate therapy to repair damage caused by conversion therapy constitute an ‘ascertainable loss,’ a prerequisite to seeking damages under the Consumer Fraud Act,” SPLC officials said in a press release. “The court further ruled that such costs of repairing the damage caused by conversion therapy can be recovered as ‘damages sustained’ under the CFA.”

According to the suit, JONAH subjected its clients to such “therapy” as standing naked in a circle with their counselor, and it encouraged them to blame their parents for allegedly making them gay, with exercises that included beating effigies of their mothers.

“These self-proclaimed experts inflicted grave damage upon our clients, who believed JONAH’s claims that it could ‘cure’ them of being gay,” said SPLC deputy legal director David Dinielli. “Instead, these young men were left with guilt, shame and frustration. No amount of money can fix the damage JONAH caused, but recognizing that JONAH can be held accountable for the cost of repairing that damage is an important step.”

The case is expected to go to trial early next year. Read more about it on the SPLC website.

Posted about this earlier 

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow, via invisiblelad)

Franklin Graham spoke at the Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Walls conference yesterday where he told the assembled pastors that they needed to be willing to have their heads chopped off for speaking the truth that gays are bound for hell.

"Are we going to be cowards because we’re afraid?," Graham asked the crowd. “Could we get our heads chopped off? We could, maybe one day.  So what? Chop it off!”

Graham went on to assert that he loves gays “enough to care to warn them that if they want to continue living like this, it’s the flames of hell for you” and he will continue to do so because he will one day have to answer to God and does not want to be found to have been a coward who refused to preach God’s laws:

H/T: Kyle Mantyla at RWW

(Source: justinspoliticalcorner)

The state is down to just one Planned Parenthood clinic now that conservative lawmakers have succeeded in defunding the nonprofit organization.

A Planned Parenthood clinic in Kansas is being forced to close because it can’t afford to remain open now that the state has stripped federal family planning money from the women’s health organization. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri announced Friday that it’s choosing to close its location in Hays, located in Ellis County, so that it can keep operating its larger facility in Wichita.

In March, a federal appeals court agreed to let Kansas proceed with its plan to defund Planned Parenthood, a goal that social conservatives in the state have been working toward for years. Before that ruling, the two Planned Parenthood clinics in Kansas used Title X funds to provide birth control services to over 9,000 women, as well as 8,000 STD tests. But now, Ellis County will be left without a single Title X provider.

The Title X program is a crucial safety net for low-income women who cannot otherwise afford preventative health care. Even Republicans acknowledge that it’s a cost-effective program for preventing unintended pregnancies, which ultimately saves the government money. Nonetheless, this type of funding has been jeopardized by partisan crusades against abortion, as anti-choice lawmakers have attempted to target Planned Parenthood at any cost. This approach is particularly ironic considering the fact that Title X funds are already prohibited from going toward abortion.

According to court documents, Planned Parenthood’s two Kansas clinics were already operating at a loss even before they lost out on $330,000 in annual Title X funding. The nonprofit group can no longer offer no-cost preventative services, like free birth control pills, to its patients who come to the Wichita clinic. The only reason it’s able to continue providing affordable services is because there have been generous community donations to keep the clinic going.

“We’re still here for our patients, and we are fighting every day to maintain, restore, or expand access to health care in Kansas despite all the obstacles in our path,” the interim CEO of the Planned Parenthood affiliate, Ron Ellifrits, said in a written statement. “The generous support of private individuals across the state, as well as the difficult decision to close our health center in Hays, will allow Planned Parenthood to continue providing services for as many Kansas women and men as possible while Kansas lawmakers continue to play politics with women’s health.”

The only other state that’s successfully defunded Planned Parenthood is Texas, which recently relaunched a new family planning program using solely state funds, specifically for the purpose of excluding the women’s health organization. That move has beencatastrophic, particularly since Planned Parenthood used to be the biggest family planning provider for impoverished women in the Lone Star State.

Source: Tara-Culp Ressler for ThinkProgress

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

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Minutes after midnight, a lesbian couple got married at Philadelphia’s Museum Of Art. 

The two arrived with family and friends just 15 minutes before midnight, greeting each other all once again when reunited at the top of the steps with shrieks of celebration as the city skyline acted as a backdrop. They posed for pictures like celebrities as the guests at their last-minute wedding snapped photographs left and right while they fixed hair affected by the high humidity. When it turned midnight, Judge Diana Louise Anhalt began to read her script. And when she read, “What we do today is in conformity with the laws of Pennsylvania,” roars erupted. Cheers and claps echoed throughout the top of the museum steps and onlookers joined in the celebration. “It’s an honor to be a part of such a historic moment for Pennsylvania,” Anhalt said.

Weddings are taking place across the state today and local elected officials are presiding over many of the events.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

PHILADELPHIA — The first same-sex marriages are now in the history books at City Hall in Philadelphia. Eight couples were married Friday in the mayor’s reception room, days after a federal judge lifted the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

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Christopher DiCapua, left, and Oscar Cabrera kiss after saying their wedding vows Friday, May 23, 2014, at City Hall in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke, AP)

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Kristin Keith, left, and Catherine Hennessy Friday, May 23, 2014, at City Hall in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke, AP)

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Philadelphia judge Barbara McDermott presides over Adam Woods, left, and Justin Jain wedding Friday, May 23, 2014, at City Hall in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke, AP)

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Corey Crawford, right, and Jessica Samph smile to each other before their wedding Friday, May 23, 2014, at City Hall in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke, AP)

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Lindsay Vandermay, right, and Ashley Wilson say their vows during a wedding ceremony atop the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps just after midnight on Friday, May 23, 2014. (Joseph Kaczmarek, AP)

PHILADELPHIA — The first gay marriages entered the history books at Philadelphia City Hall on Friday, as exhilarated couples both young and old exchanged vows.

Eight couples were married in the mayor’s gilded reception room, days after a federal judge lifted the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

“We couldn’t really turn that (offer) down because it is such a historic day for our community, and for Philadelphia,” said 32-year-old printing company owner Adam Woods as he prepared to marry actor Justin Jain.

Eight city judges performed the weddings simultaneously as family and friends circled around the couples.

“I’m full of love and pride for our city, our community and each other,” said Jain, who is also 32.

Ashley Wilson and Lindsay Vandermay didn’t even wait for dawn’s early light Friday, exchanging vows just after midnight on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in front of about 30 people. Vandermay said the couple felt that the City of Brotherly Love had “opened its arms” to them and other gay couples.

“This is for everybody, so congratulations,” she said.

Pennsylvania could host scores of same-sex weddings this weekend after a federal judge Tuesday threw the state’s 1996 ban on “the ash heap of history.” Gov. Tom Corbett, who has fought gay marriage on several fronts, decided Wednesday not to appeal, saying it would be unlikely to succeed.

“Some questions are no-brainers, and hopefully they’ll be political nonstarters (now), too,” Woods said of the gay community’s fight for the right to marry.

He noted that U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, who issued the ruling, had been appointed by a Republican president, George W. Bush. The Tuesday afternoon ruling sent Woods and Jain, and other couples around the state, rushing to get a license the same day.

“I’m 51. I never, ever thought I’d see this day. Never,” said an emotional Catherine Hennessy, who married longtime partner Kristin Keith, 42. “I’m so excited — more excited than I could have dreamed.”

Stern portraits of Philadelphia mayors from earlier centuries stared down at the newlyweds, not that Hennessy noticed.

“I could only look at Kristin,” she said. “Time to move forward.”

College Spanish teachers Oscar Cabrera and Chris DiCapua said they have not faced any overtdiscrimination since meeting at the University of Kansas nearly 20 years ago. Nonetheless, the formal recognition of their relationship is important to them.

“It always felt strange that 18-year-olds could marry somebody they met the day before, while we’ve been together 18 years and couldn’t get married,” Cabrera said. “We’re glad that we live in Philadelphia, which is very, very progressive.”

Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott, who married Woods and Jain, noted the diversity in the room. Several couples were of mixed race. Cabrera is from Nicaragua. Jain wore a Barong Tagalog, a traditional Filipino embroidered shirt.

“This is the face of the city today,” said McDermott, “and the future of the city.”

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

Former Nixon aide and longtime Republican standard-bearer Pat Buchanan published a column on Fridayin which he heaped praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin for being a “traditional Christian” leader who “rejects the moral relativism of the West.”

According to Right Wing WatchtheSuicide of a Superpowerauthor published the remarks at “Birther” and conspiracy hub World Net Daily.

The column lamented the degeneration of the European Union into a “soft managerial state” with no real military or economic might.

Symptomatic of the dangerous “cosmopolitanism” that Buchanan claimed is sapping the power from ideas like “home,” “race,” “blood group,” and “fatherland” is the triumph of Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst in the 2014 Eurovision contest.

“That victory in the recent Eurovision contest of Conchita, the bearded transvestite drag queen who performed in a gown, though celebrated by much of the European press, sent a message to millions of traditionalists that this is no longer their culture,” said Buchanan.

It has fallen the Russia and the former Eastern Bloc, he wrote, to uphold true values in the world.

“Putin not only publicly rejects the moral relativism of the West, under his guidance Russian social legislation is being consciously rooted in traditional Christian concepts of right and wrong,” Buchanan said.

Former KGB director Putin and conservative Russian legislators have done everything in their power to criminalize LGBT behaviors, making it a crime to speak about or portray same-sex relationships in a positive light under the so-called “gay propaganda” law. The Russian Parliament has stripped LGBT people of the right to adopt children and barred adoption of Russian orphans to countries that allow same-sex marriage.

Waves of anti-LGBT violence have seized the former Soviet Union as thugs have beaten, burned, tortured, and killed men and women who are accused of having any “non-traditional” sexual orientation.

“Putin is the anti-Obama,” enthused Buchanan, who wasfired from MSNBCover passages fromSuicide of a Superpowerthat were deemed to be dangerously close to racist hate speech.

Under Putin’s firm hand,Buchanan said, Russia is “moving to occupy the cultural-moral vacuum left by America. As we celebrate multiculturalism, LGBT rights and abortion on demand, Putin repudiates Hollywood values.”

I’ve found the Putin love coming from the Right Wing evangelical sector to be incredibly strange. On the one hand you have people who are old enough to remember, and when it suits, actually invoke the “Red Scare” now eagerly cheering on Russian encroachment…provided it’s anti-gay and at this point “Anti-Obama” enough. It’s pretty fascinating ideological gymnastics. 

(Source: invisiblelad)

Ex-Ex-Gay Pride

On a Tuesday evening nearly 14 years ago, John Paulk walked into a gay bar in Washington, D.C. At another time in his life, Paulk would have fit right in. But in 2000, Paulk’s life as an openly gay man was far behind him. He was then one of the most prominent so-called ex-gays in the country, only two years removed from appearing on the cover of Newsweek, posing with his smiling wife for an article about gay conversion therapy.

At 37, Paulk had spent the prior 13 years involved with Exodus International, one of the largest and most influential ex-gay organizations in the world. He married another ex-gay, Anne, and together they rose through the ranks, becoming leaders and eventually the faces of a movement that attracted thousands with its message that, if they tried hard enough, gay and lesbian people could become happy heterosexuals. “Change is possible” was their rallying cry. You just needed to surrender yourself to God. Look at us, they said to rooms of thousands. Look how happy we are.

[Related: Never Scared Straight.]

“We were all over the world. We had been on every show, People magazine, GQ, Time, Newsweek, every newspaper. We wrote three books, toured Europe speaking,” Paulk tells Newsweek. Today, Paulk is openly gay again, divorced and running a catering business in Portland, Oregon. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he was trying hard to keep the closet door closed, while preaching a message of ex-gay deliverance from within it. Exodus International was bigger than ever. It served as the umbrella organization for hundreds of ex-gay ministries spread across several countries, some of which performed “reparative” therapy, and all of which preached a message of “healing” the “developmental condition” of gayness through prayer.

Far-right groups including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association pooled $600,000 to place ads promising the effectiveness of reparative therapy in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. Anne and John Paulk smiled from full-page newspaper spreads.

In front of the crowds and cameras, Paulk was the image of certainty. But backstage, he was faltering. More than that, he knew he was lying.

“It’s funny, for those of us that worked in it, behind closed doors, we knew we hadn’t really changed,” he says. “Our situations had changed—we had gotten married, and some of us had children, so our roles had changed. I was a husband and father; that was my identity. And the homosexuality had been tamped down. But you can only push it down for so long, and it would eke its way out every so often.”

When Paulk walked into that gay bar in 2000, someone recognized him and phoned Wayne Besen, a gay rights activist who now runs the nonprofit Truth Wins Out. Besen rushed over and snapped a picture. In the ensuing scandal, Paulk initially claimed he just went in to use the bathroom, and didn’t know it was a gay bar. But really, he was aching just to be in a welcoming environment.

“I went to a gay bar—not looking for sex, which is what people thought—but because I was missing my community. I was looking to sit in a place with people I felt comfortable with, and that was other gay people,” Paulk says. Though he continued to take speaking engagements, by 2003, he was burned out.

“I would be in hotel rooms, and I would be on my face sobbing and crying on the bed,” he says. “I felt like a liar and a hypocrite. Having to go out and give hope to these people. I was in despair knowing that what I was telling them was not entirely honest. I couldn’t do it anymore.”

Even in its earliest days, Exodus’s philosophy—that same-sex attraction meant a person was “broken” and could be “fixed”—was undermined by the reality of its members’ actions. Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, two of the co-founders, left the movement in 1979 to be in a committed relationship with one another. (Bussee has spent the decades since actively fighting Exodus’s message.) John Evans, one of the founders of Love in Action (LIA), an early ex-gay ministry that helped establish Exodus in 1974, left LIA after a friend committed suicide over his distress at being unable to change his sexual orientation. “They’re destroying people’s lives,” Evans told The Wall Street Journal in 1993. “They’re living in a fantasy world.” (LIA has since changed its name to Restoration Path.)

But there was a time, from the early 1980s all the way through the mid-2000s, when the ex-gay movement appeared to be flourishing. There were the aforementioned newspaper ads, and the big crowds at conferences and speaking events. The Exodus Global Alliance (the organization’s international outreach arm) established ministries in 18 countries, and in 2006, President George W. Bush invited Alan Chambers, Exodus’s president, and Randy Thomas, Exodus’s director of membership, to the White House to lobby for Bush’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. The rightward shift of American conservatism and debate over gay marriage brought fringe organizations like Focus on the Family, which was closely connected to Exodus, into the news spotlight again and again.

But all the far-right funding and rapid expansion did little more than prop up a withering institution. A series of scandals chipped away at the ex-gay movement’s veneer of success.

First came the photo of Paulk in the gay bar. Then in 2003, Michael Johnston, founder of “National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day,” was found to have infected men he’d met online with HIV through unprotected sex. John Smid, who joined LIA in 1986 and eventually became its executive director, left the organization in 2008. Three years later, Smid wrote on his blog that he “never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual,” and that reorientation is impossible, because being gay is intrinsic.

Then it crumbled further. In 2012, psychologist Robert Spitzer—one of the leaders of the successful push in the 1970s for the American Psychiatric Association to declassify homosexuality as a disease—retracted a controversial study, published in 2003, often cited by the ex-gay community that had concluded some “highly motivated” individuals could change their sexual orientation. Spitzer wrote an apology to LGBT people who “wasted time and energy” on reparative therapy.

By that time, policy within Exodus began to genuinely shift. “We renounced and forbid reparative therapy,” in 2012, Chambers tells Newsweek. “And there was an enormous split inside Exodus. Many who were more fundamentalist in approach had already broken off and formed Restored Hope Network.” Anne Paulk, John’s ex-wife, was one of those who left. She currently serves as executive director of Restored Hope, whose website harkens back to the early days of Exodus, claiming that those with same-sex attraction are “broken” and can “become who they are” under the guidance of Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that Restored Hope’s board is composed almost entirely of ex-Exodus members, the website makes no mention of the older organization.

Anne Paulk did not respond to Newsweek’s questions on the subject, although she did email Newsweek a statement in which she declared “We, at Restored Hope, are happy to continue to care for those who are seeking help in aligning their life with classical Christian sexual ethics. Although some choose to return to homosexuality, others who have chosen to leave that same life and thrive. My life would be one example of the latter.”

The members of Exodus International who were on board with Chambers’s decision to renounce conversion therapy remained until June 2013, when he shut down operations for good. According to Chambers, once he realized there would be no way to separate Exodus from its “sordid history,” the only option was to shut the doors. On disbanding, Chambers issued a deeply apologetic press release, stating, “I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.”

Today, Chambers says that Exodus’s focus on conversion therapy was unplanned and spun out of control. “I never liked the term ex-gay,” he says. “I never wanted to be an ex-gay. I just simply wanted Exodus to be an organization that helped people live in congruence with their own lives and goals.”

Other organizations, however, have filled the void left in Exodus’s wake. The Restored Hope Network has taken up the mantle of conservative Christian conversion. And in October 2013, a newly formed group, Voice of the Voiceless, hosted its “First Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Dinner and Reception” that attracted about 60 Christian leaders and ex-gay individuals.

Then there is Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), formerly Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, a nonprofit created in 1999 by two New Jersey parents who each had a gay son. In November 2012, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sued JONAH and one of its counselors on behalf of four men who underwent conversion therapy in the late 2000s. The lawsuit alleged that JONAH violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and used invalid practices to try to “fix something that isn’t broken.”

JONAH told Newsweek in an email that it “doesn’t ‘fix’ anything.” According to co-directors Elaine Berk and Arthur Goldberg, JONAH “refers individuals to independent counselors who employ frequently used techniques to help a person deal with painful issues in their life. These techniques are designed to help people feel better about themselves and to live a life consistent with their religious and personal values. The result is often a diminution of their unwanted same-sex attraction.”

The Superior Court of New Jersey rejected JONAH’s motion to dismiss in the summer of 2013; Sam Wolfe, SPLC senior staff attorney, expects the case to go to trial in early 2014. Wolfe also notes that since the lawsuit got under way, a number of other individuals have approached SPLC with potential cases of their own.

In the meanwhile, criticism directed towards JONAH has come from within the religious community, as well; when the lawsuit was filed, the Rabbinical Council of America (one of the most influential Orthodox Jewish organizations in the country) immediately distanced itself from JONAH, reaffirming that, based on the current scientific evidence, they did not endorse gay conversion therapy. (On the other hand, the Torah Declaration, a statement of support, has been signed by many prominent members of the Jewish religious right.)

Lastly, there’s the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), founded in 1992 by psychologist Joseph Nicolosi. NARTH considers itself the foremost secular proponent of conversion therapy; it counts hundreds of well-credentialed mental health professionals among its ranks and has issued a number of white papers on the subject. It too, however, has suffered in the public eye in recent years: In 2007, NARTH therapist Chris Austin was convicted of sexually assaulting a client, and sentenced to 10 years in prison; in 2010, NARTH board member George Rekers was found to have employed a male prostitute as a companion for a two-week European vacation; and in 2012 the Internal Revenue Service revoked NARTH’s nonprofit status for not properly filing its paperwork.

Paulk left Exodus in 2003. He cautions against “speaking for everybody,” but says in his more than two decades of watching people undergo ex-gay therapy, the “large majority” of people he met “did not change one iota.” Paulk remained silent for a decade, until he issued a formal apology last year. “I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past, ” Paulk wrote in a statement. “I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused.”

John Paulk in 2013. Photo courtesy of John Paulk

Today, Paulk strongly believes that no child or teen should be put through any type of “treatment” for their sexual orientation. On the other hand, he says adults should have the right to pursue any therapy they choose. “If I go see a therapist because I am uncomfortable with homosexual feelings or attractions and I do not feel that those are compatible with who I see myself to be, [I] should have the right to determine the course of [my] therapy,” Paulk says. “However, I completely draw the line when it comes to minors.”

The tragedy that Paulk lives with to this day is that organizations like JONAH often specifically target minors, with summer camps and teen programs. “For 25 years I felt guilty and filled with self-loathing, trying to reject this part about myself. I’m culpable—I spread the message that my sexuality had changed, and I used my marriage as proof of that,” Paulk says.

That marriage ended recently. Anne and John now share joint custody of their three teenage sons. At 51, Paulk is living as an openly gay man for the first time since he entered the ex-gay ministry at the age of 24. Paulk said despite the fact that his decision to live a life true to himself was difficult and was accompanied by significant risk (not the least of which was breaking up his family), it was well worth it. During his 10-year silence, Paulk went to culinary school and opened a catering company in Portland. He says he is now “thriving.”

Paulk’s story echoes those of many others whose lives were damaged by the shame, guilt, and self-loathing that marked their involvement with ex-gay therapy, and who overcame their past to eventually live life as their LGBT selves. In 2007, the website Beyond Ex-Gay was founded by Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke, who both were part of Exodus. The site collects first-person narratives from “ex-ex-gays.” Among them is Darlene Bogle, who was a leader in Exodus until 1990, when she fell in love with a woman who attended one of her ex-gay meetings.

“There were a lot of people in leadership positions [in Exodus] who still felt that they were gay but could not admit it,” Bogle tells Newsweek. “We learned to lie.”

Like many, Bogle wanted so badly to change her orientation that she convinced herself that if she just kept saying she was ex-gay, and didn’t actually have any sexual relationships with women, then she actually was ex-gay.  “But the things you do do not change who you are,” she says. “Even if I was not sexual at all, I would still be a lesbian. I just wish more people had a grasp of that truth.”

Bogle, too, regrets the role she played with Exodus.

“In just trying to help, I did immeasurable harm,” she says. “It’s like when children are molested, and they live with that for their entire lives. They’re still being harmed, even though it happened years ago. I think it’s a lot like what happens when people are involved in ex-gay ministry.”

Bogle and Paulk’s beliefs are held widely by both public health officials and lawmakers. Today, state-level legislators across the country are beginning to push forward rules meant to protect minors from this potential damage. Both California and New Jersey have officially banned gay conversion therapy for minors. In Washington, a bill has already passed in the House by a 94–4 vote and awaits approval by the state Senate. A similar bill was introduced earlier this year in both houses of the New York state legislature, where it still awaits a vote. And lawmakers have announced they will be pushing anti-conversion-therapy laws in Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

On an individual level, many ex-ex-gays are trying to repair the damage they believe they caused while complicit in ex-gay messaging. Bogle, for her part, has written two books about how being gay and being a Christian are not mutually exclusive.  

“I’m trying to go back, to try to bring healing to those who believed my lie,” she says. “It’ll take the rest of my life. I’ll be 70 this year. I just hope God lets me live long enough to let me do it.”

Paulk, meanwhile, hopes his story encourages others to overcome their own fears and uncertainties. “It’s difficult, but worth it at the end of the day because of the peace that comes with it. It’s happy on the other side.”

On Monday, the award-winning documentary film, God Loves Uganda, premieres on PBS. It’s also being released on DVD, along with a companion book. Here’s how you can help expose and halt the anti-gay…

Post image for Help Stop Evangelicals Exporting Homophobia And Sexism To Uganda

Thanks to an organized and targeted campaign waged by the American evangelical Christian right, Uganda and all of Africa has been under attack. The religious right sees Africa as a canvas on which to paint their homophobia and sexism — a second chance to create what they failed to here in the U.S.

On Monday, the award-winning documentary film, God Loves Uganda, premieres on PBS at 10:00 PM EDT. It’s also being released on Monday on DVD — you can buy it at Amazonor at your local retailer.

“One of the most acclaimed documentaries of the year, God Loves Uganda explores the role of the American evangelical movement in Uganda, where American missionaries have been credited with both creating schools and hospitals and promoting dangerous religious bigotry,” a press release states.

The film follows evangelical leaders in America and Uganda along with politicians and missionaries as they attempt to eliminate what they deem “sexual sin” and convert Ugandans to fundamentalist Christianity. The film records the tense atmosphere of fear created when a virulently anti-gay bill wins widespread support. Signed into law in February 2014, the Anti-Homosexuality Act mandates a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual activity as well as imprisonment for those who provide aid or counseling to members of the LBGT community. Directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams and produced by Williams and Julie Goldman, God Loves Uganda premieres on Independent Lens, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, May 19, 2014, 10:00-11:30 PM ET on PBS (check local listings.)

Roger Ross Williams, the director of God Loves Uganda, is endorsing a new book,American Culture Warriors in Africa. “As people learn more about Americans driving anti-LGBTQ animus and legislation in Uganda and beyond, they ask ‘What can I do to stop this?’ American Culture Warriors in Africa is the perfect companion piece to God Loves Uganda, and should be read by anyone who wants answers to that question.”

You can buy the book now, and you can also help our friends at Political Research Associates (PRA) get the book into the hands of activists in Africa and all over the world, via their Indiegogo campaign. PRA is “a human rights think tank that partners with social justice movements both in the United States and around the world.”

We hope you’ll watch God Loves Uganda Monday night (or set your DVR now!) on PBS,buy the companion bookAmerican Culture Warriors in Africa, and contribute to the campaign to help arm LGBT and progressive activists with the book.

We all know raising awareness is key. Money and time are tight, we know. If you don’t have enough of either, perhaps you’ll consider sharing this article with friends, family members, or co-workers who might be interested.

Watch:

Previously:

God Loves Uganda: How An Oscar-Winning Producer And A Fiery Reverend May Save Africa’s LGBT People

This ‘Terrifying’ And ‘Inspiring’ Film Was Just Nominated For An Oscar

We Must Fight Gay People Just As Russia Fought Nazis, Scott Lively Tells Putin

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

Fox News host Megyn Kelly invited anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) to comment on HGTV’s decision to cancel a program that would have starred a rabid anti-gay extremist, pushing the FRC’s own talking points to baselessly frame HGTV’s decision as an attack on Christians.

On May 6, Right Wing Watch reported that David Benham, who along with his brother Jason was slated to star in a fixer-upper reality show called Flip It Forward, had an extensive record of anti-choice, anti-gay, and anti-Muslim activism. David Benham explained to far-right radio host Janet Mefferd in 2012 that he and his brother had participated in a protest of the Democratic National Convention to take a stand against “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation,” abortion, divorce, and “demonic ideologies” circulating in the education system. Benham has also compared the anti-gay marriage fight to the struggle against Nazi Germany and highlighted Leviticus’ prescription of death for gay sex.Benham’s views on Muslims are no kinder; he has declared that “Islam takes life and enslaves it” and protested in front of mosques while shouting “Jesus Hates Muslims.”

Faced with a public outcry, HGTV announced on May 7 that it had “decided not to move forward” with Flip It Forward.

During the May 8 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly asked Perkins to weigh in on the controversy. Kelly suggested that while HGTV would have been condemned for cancelling a show featuring gay stars, the Benhams were being punished because, unlike gay people, Christians’ rights aren’t as “protected and recognized in this country”:

KELLY:  If HGTV had a couple of hosts who are about to launch a TV show and it came out that they were gay and then they pulled the plug on them because they’re gay, the backlash would be enormous in this country, and that’s because gay rights are more and more protected and recognized in this country. Christian beliefs and Christian rights, not so much.

That kind of rhetoric wouldn’t be out of place at the FRC, branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its pattern of spreading malicious smears about LGBT people. In his own blog post on the controversy, Perkins wrote that the Benham brothers, former baseball players, “were used to a level playing field. In Hollywood, they’re finding out that for Christians, there’s no such thing.” Of course, it was the vehemence of Benham’s bigoted comments, not his Christian faith, that led HGTV to cancel the show.

From a legal standpoint, Kelly and Perkins’ argument is transparently ridiculous. Religion is a federally protected class — as former attorney Kelly certainly knows — but sexual orientation and gender identity lack federal protection. Not only do gay couples lack the right to marry in 33 states, but they can be fired because of who they are in 29 states. Transgender workers can be fired based on their gender identity in 33 states. LGBT people are also disproportionately targeted for hate crimes.

To her credit, Kelly noted the extreme tone of Benham’s anti-gay rhetoric, even as she completely ignored his attacks on the Muslim community. As she noted, invoking the Levitican prescription of death for gays would strike many people as “extremely alienating.” But after Perkins dodged that point by baselessly attacking Right Wing Watch as “about as reliable as the Obamacare website,” Kelly ended the interview without pushing back.

Despite his long history of anti-LGBT bigotry, Perkins has been a frequent guest on Kelly’s show in recent months. Perkins has smeared gay men as people who prey on children to “recruit” them into the gay “lifestyle,” condemned the LGBT movement as “evil,” and applauded a 2009 bill that would imposed the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda. Kelly, who has carefully cultivated the image of a hard-hitting news reporter beholden to no faction, has nevertheless failed to call out Perkins’ extremism; rather, she has continued to provide him a platform to spew misinformation and smears. That this ostensibly non-ideological anchor has helped legitimize Perkins is precisely why she’s arguably the most dangerous person on Fox News.

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA

(Source: justinspoliticalcorner)

When HGTV pulled the plug on a reality TV show starring North Carolina real estate dealers and brothers David and Jason Benham following a Right Wing Watch report on David’s anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism, David Benham insisted that the network withdrew support due to misinformation and “lying,” asserting that neither he nor his brother “hate homosexuals.”

Although Religious Right activists have been rushing to defend Benham, none has yet been able to explain how Right Wing Watch’s list of verbatim quotes from Benhamconstituted misinformation.

In fact, the interviews we featured in our post are just examples of Benham’s large portfolio of right-wing activism. Since writing our original post, we have found several other examples of Benham’s extremism.

Benham’s group refers to abortion rights as a “holocaust” and said that “the devil” was behind Roe v. Wade.

In a January 2012 interview, Benham explained his “love” for homosexuals when he suggested that gay people are under the control of “demonic forces,” arguing that once he succeeds in recriminalizing abortion, he will next defeat the “homosexual agenda” and Islam.

Benham was speaking with none other than Michael Brown, an anti-gay activist who has gone so far as to defend Uganda’s brutal homosexuality law and who leads a group which includes Benham as a board member.

Benham: We have the tools, we have the stones, we have the weapons, we’ve been faithful with the lion and bear stories, we’re charging at this Goliath called abortion and when we take Goliath down, I promise you, all of the church will start coming out of the caves. The homosexual agenda is next, tolerance towards radical Islam is next, we’re going to start taking these Goliaths down, we’re not afraid anymore.

Brown: To take them down means with the life of Jesus, light instead of darkness, life instead of death, transformation instead of bondage.

Benham: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities, rulers and authorities of darkness.’ We love these people and so we are not going to allow the demonic forces and agendas behind them to destroy life.

In an August 2012 edition of Brown’s show, Benham said that Islam is a “demonic agenda that wants to come and take America” and repeated the bogus right-wing myth that President Obama endorsed a Muslim prayer rally.

He also told Brown that he is leading a “spiritual battle” against Islam, warning that the United States will soon “change gods,” embrace Islam and invite war.

Previously, the Anti-Defamation League reported that Benham called mosques a “den of iniquity” and said Muslims are “enslaved in the tyrannical bondage of Islam” and are “the enemy attacking” America.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)