Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for October, 2011

Full Page Ad Reminds Voters Who’s Behind “Values Voter Summit”

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2011

The Southern Poverty Law Center has taken out a full page ad in the Washington Post reminding readers why the two organization’s sponsoring the event, the Family “Research” Council and the American Family Association, have been included in their very short list of anti-gay hate groups. The ad reads:

SPLC's full page ad in the Washington Post (Click to view PDF: 132KB/1 page)

Just whose values are represented at the Values Voter Summit?Prominent public figures will attend the Values Voter Summit in DC this weekend.

But what values are they promoting?

The summit is hosted by the Family Research Council and co-sponsored by the American Family Association — organizations that have mounted a long-running campaign of falsehoods that demonize the LGBT community.

They portray gay people as child molesters, deviants, public health threats and more. Their outrageous claims have been thoroughly debunked by numerous scientific authorities and respected professional associations such as the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Their words have consequences: Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people are far more likely than any other group to be victimized by violent hate crimes. Many have been driven by relentless demonization to seek a “cure” for their sexual orientation through dangerous therapeutic practices. Many have been driven to suicide by relentless bullying in our schools.

Whose values are these?

Is bearing false witness a “family” value? Is bigotry?

The ad goes on to list several quotes from the FRC and AFA equating homosexuality with pedophilia, criminality, Nazi’s, and Adolf Hitler. The SPLC and Wayne Besen’s Truth Wins Out held a joint press conference this morning to release a report on the AFA and FRC’s “false propaganda that demonizes the LGBT community.” FRC’s Tony Perkins is furious, and equates the SPLC’s exercise of free speech:

Perkins said the SPLC news conference reflected an attempt to prevent free discussion of ideas and noted that he doesn’t show up at SPLC events to protest the civil rights organization’s beliefs.

“Southern Poverty Law Center is obviously desperate to try to shut down public debate,” he said.

Petition Calls On Southern Baptists To Apologize

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2011

A large group of Southern Baptists will gather in Phoenix this week for their annual convention. As leading proponents of ex-gay ministries, they have been front and center of a larger anti-gay political movement. Several LGBT advocacy groups plan to greet the convention with a gathering of their own. Faith in America, Soulforce, Truth Wins Out, Get Equal, and the Association of Affirming and Welcoming Baptists will join a local group of Phoenix-area clergy known as Believe Out Loud for a demonstration calling on the Southern Baptist Convention to apologize for the harm its teachings have caused the LGBT community, particularly to the youth. There is an online petition which will be hand-delivered following a protest outside the SBC’s annual meeting in Phoenix on Wednesday, a day that marks the religious group’s historic apology to African Americans for supporting slavery and Jim Crow laws.

So far, more than 5,000 people have signed the petition calling on the SBC to apologize. You can add your name to the petition here.

Garrett on the definition of “militant homosexual activist”

Timothy Kincaid

May 12th, 2010

Bruce Garrett writes at Truth Wins Out about what anti-gay activists mean by “don’t flaunt it”. What they really mean is that they won’t harm you as long as you hate yourself as much as they do.

A Militant Homosexual is a homosexual who doesn’t think there is anything wrong with being a homosexual. A Militant Homosexual Activist is a homosexual who acts like there is nothing wrong with being a homosexual. That really is all there is to it. You don’t have to wave the rainbow flag. You don’t have to march in your annual Pride Day parade. You don’t even have to swell with Pride whenever you think of how far we have come as a people since the Stonewall riots. You just have to be comfortable with being gay and being the person you are…and behave accordingly.

Time’s Running Out For Early Registration for 2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference

Jim Burroway

October 2nd, 2009

Time is running out to save on early registration for the 2009 Anti-Heterosexism conference scheduled for Nov 20-22 in West Palm Beach, Florida. You can save $50 by registering by Monday, October 5th. On October 6th, conference fees go up from $145 to $195. This conference is sponsored by Soulforce, Beyond Ex-GayTruth Wins Out, Equality Florida, the National Black Justice Coalition, and Box Turtle Bulletin.

So what is this “heterosexism” we’ll be talking about? Jeff Lutes, Executive Director for Soulforce, describes the conference this way:

First off, it’s important to be clear that the title of the conference is the Anti-Heterosexism Conference, not anti-heterosexual. Heterosexism is the widespread assumption that heterosexual relationships are somehow superior to same-sex relationships, which leads to all kinds of abuse and discrimination against LGBT people. We want to highlight where heterosexism seeps into the social, cultural, religious and political fabric of society, and how we can begin to unravel its damaging consequences.

One way we see heterosexism come into play is in the attitudes which lead LGBT people to try to change their sexual orientation.These efforts are nearly always futile. The American Psychological Association recently issued a rigorous review of 83 studies on efforts to change sexual orientation conducted between 1960 and 2007, and they now advise psychologists to avoid telling their clients that therapy or other treatments can change them from gay to straight. With great effort, they may be able to modify their behavior, and they can always change their identity (“I’m not ‘gay’ anymore, even though I still like guys.”) But practitioners who offer ironclad promises to change sexual attractions are not only hiding the truth, but they are violating APA recommendations as well.

Mark Yarhouse, one half of the Jones and Yarhouse ex-gay study team whose work has been hailed by NARTH and Exodus as proof that “change is possible,” has conceded that the APA’s stance is correct.

“For me, in my own practice, I would not focus on change of orientation,” said Yarhouse, a psychologist and counselor who teaches at Regent, an evangelical Christian school.

…Yarhouse’sstudy focused on those who said their same-sex attractions collided with their religious beliefs. He said his research found that there was “modest” movement away from homosexuality among some Exodus participants, but categorical conversions to heterosexuality were rare.

Yarhouse recommended that counselors avoid uniformly steering struggling gays toward heterosexuality and focus instead on the best outcome for the individual.

That could include celibacy or exploring different faith groups with various attitudes toward gays and lesbians, he said.

NARTH completely rejects that finding, and are instead holding a conference in West Palm Beach to push their unscientific worldview. They are very skilled at getting media attention and putting on a professional face. And you can bet that they won’t exercise the kind of candor exhibited by Mark Yarhouse.

That’s why it’s extremely important for us to be there to present the facts behind efforts to change sexual orientation. Many of those in attendance will include those who tried to change but failed, including some who were former patients of NARTH co-founder, Joseph Nicolosi.

I hope you will join me and BTB contributors Gabriel Arana and Daniel Gonzales for three days of inspiring and informative workshops on the issues surrounding attempts to change sexual orientation and the heterosexist attitudes which underlie many of those attempts. Featured speakers are Dr. Sylvia Rhue, interim Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, Dr. Jack Drescher, Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and Rev. Deborah L. Johnson of Inner Light Ministries. Through the weekend, the conference will equip attendees from all across the country on ways in which they can challenge heterosexist attitudes and practices, understand the harms of conversion therapy efforts and the unscientific principles which propel them, and become strong advocates for LGBT equality.

Let’s All Be “Anti” So No One Else Ever Has To Be “Ex”

Jeff Lutes

August 20th, 2009

Note from Jim Burroway: I am very excited to be a co-sponsor of an exciting conference scheduled for November 20-22, 2009 in West Palm Beach, Florida. I will be there, as will BTB contributors Daniel Gonzales and Gabriel Arana. I hope you will too. Here’s Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes to tell you all about it.

Two weeks ago a task force from the American Psychological Association released a ground breaking report after a two year analysis of the research on sexual orientation change efforts. Based on a rigorous review of 83 studies conducted between 1960 and 2007, the APA advised psychologists to avoid telling their clients that therapy or other treatments can change them from gay to straight.

Not surprisingly, NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), Exodus International, and a slew of other religious groups immediately denounced the APA report. They claimed, as they so often do, that any research affirming the goodness and wholeness of queer people is bogus and only their twisted belief that we are sick, sinful, and second-class (and therefore in need of “change”) has any credibility.

In my view, the conversation about whether gays can change is a distraction from the much more important question; which is “Why do those in power encourage change in the first place?” The answer, of course, is the rampant heterosexism that infuses nearly every aspect of our culture.

Heterosexism is a system of attitudes, behaviors, and practices that subordinate queer people on the basis of their sexual orientation. In the same way that racism keeps whites in power over people of color and sexism keeps women subordinate to men, heterosexism keeps those who are straight dominant over those who are not. Heterosexism is the prejudice that only heterosexuality is normative, combined with the power to enforce that privilege across every spectrum of society. Heterosexism is advanced by nearly every tune on the radio, sitcom and commercial on television, print ad in the newspaper, film at the box office, and institutional policy within our government and work place. In innumerable ways each day, our society idealizes straightness and ignores or devalues the existence of any person or family who identifies otherwise.

When was the last time you heard a debate about whether therapy and prayer can change a straight person to gay?

I believe “change”, “repair”, and “conversion” are indeed possible. Millions of people have changed their minds and now believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens deserve full equality under the law. A growing number of churches have repaired their previously broken theology and now welcome and affirm everyone in their congregations. Slowly, the religious denominations that create and enforce church doctrine are undergoing a conversion in their understanding of LGBTQ people (let’s hope the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America undergoes such a conversion this week).

But the only way things change is if you and I are willing to be “anti” so that no one ever again has to be “ex.” Focusing on the work of anti-heterosexism (undoing the notion that straightness is superior and preferable) undermines the toxic belief system that encourages so many to waste thousands of dollars and precious years trying to become “ex-gay” in therapies and programs that end up doing more harm than good.

So, I’m proud of Soulforce, Beyond Ex-Gay, Box Turtle Bulletin, Truth Wins Out, Equality Florida, and the National Black Justice Coalition for coming together to sponsor the 2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida (November 20-22, 2009) during the same weekend and in the same city where NARTH will hold its annual conference. Early registration begins today at www.anti-heterosexismconference.org and the conference features powerful keynotes by Dr. Sylvia Rhue, Dr. Jack Drescher, and Rev. Deborah Johnson, plus an exciting line-up of concurrent workshops that will be announced in September.

It’s our moral obligation to be “anti” and resist, oppose, and prevent the systems of power that oppress and discriminate. Join us this November in West Palm Beach as together we learn effective tools for undoing heterosexism in communities across the globe.

Warning: At this conference, you will most likely change . . . into your bathing suit!

Hope to see you there.

2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference Called to Counter NARTH Annual Conference

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2009

The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) will hold its annual conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, in November, where they will push their claim among themselves and in the media that people can and ought to “change” their sexual orientation. In pushing their message, they have already pointed to examples from the 1950s through the 1980s when gays and lesbians underwent torturous electric shock aversion therapy. Is this what NARTH would have for our future?

We believe there is a better way. That’s why we are pleased to announce:

On Friday, November 20, Beyond Ex-Gay will hold a pre-conference institute for ex-gay survivors and allies. The conference itself will begin Friday evening and continue through Sunday morning. A full day of speakers and workshops are being planned, with topics touching on:

  • Understanding the Harm Caused By Heterosexism
  • Best Practices for Undoing Heterosexism
  • The Dangers of Reparative Therapy, Ex-Gay Ministries, and Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation
  • History & Practices of Reparative Therapy and Ex-Gay Ministries
  • Therapeutic Models for Helping LGBT People in Health and Mental Health Care
  • The Connection Between Religion, Heterosexism, and Reparative Therapy
  • Intersections Between Heterosexism, Racism, Sexism, Capitalism, etc.
  • The Healthy Reconciliation of Sexuality and Spirituality
  • Reflections on the Ex-Gay Experience
  • Impacting the Media: Strategies for Sharing Your Story with Confidence
  • Building Healthy Relationships After an Ex-Gay Experience
  • Ethical Dilemmas Associated with Reparative Therapy & Ex-Gay Ministries
  • Social Science Research on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity
  • LGBT Families and Parenting
  • Nonviolent Activism and Advocacy Strategies
  • Becoming a Powerful Ally

If you are interested in conducting a workshop, you can find an application with instructions at the Soulforce web site. Deadline for applications for workshops is August 29. Information on registration will be available in a couple of weeks. I hope to see you there.

Ex-Gays And The Law: Truth Wins Out and Lambda Legal Offer Legal Advice

Jim Burroway

February 21st, 2009

Truth Wins Out and Lambda Legal have released a booklet, Ex-Gay & The Law (PDF: 1.4MB/12pages), which provides an excellent overview by Wayne Besen of the ex-gay movement and its practitioners. The booklet aims to educate ex-gay survivors who believe they were harmed by their experiences about their legal options. From TWO’s press release:

Ex-Gay & the Law helps survivors of ex-gay programs explore their legal rights if they believe they have been harmed,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “This groundbreaking publication offers practical legal advice so important questions can be answered.”

“We are pleased to help support this publication and to be a part of this effort,” said Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director of Lambda Legal. “Groups that proclaim to ‘cure’ gay people of their sexual orientation lack any legitimate medical backing, cause harm, and sometimes operate unlawfully and unethically. If you have experienced any of the scenarios outlined in the last pages of Ex-Gay & the Law, we welcome you to contact or Legal Help Desk.”

I’ve looked over the pamphlet. While it is definitely an advocacy piece, it certainly matches what I’ve witnessed first-hand from personally attending Love Won Out conferences, the week-long Exodus Freedom Conference in Irvine, CA., the Family Impact Summit in Florida (where Exodus International president Alan Chambers described gays as following an “evil agenda”), and by talking with survivors of the Love In Action live-in ministry.

In fact, if anything I think Wayne might have soft-pedaled some of what goes on at the Love In Action live-in ministry on page 6. The worst abuse I learned — and this was confirmed by three separate people who attended Love In Action — occurred at the so-called “Friends and Family weekend.”

It goes like this: during the “client’s” stay at Love In Action, they are required to undergo an exhausted “personal inventory” in which they recount in explicit detail each and every sexual “sin” they have ever committed — whether it was detailed descriptions of sexual acts, or if they had been celibate then detailed descriptions of their sexual fantasies. Over the course of weeks and months, they revisit their personal inventory and add to it anything else that they may remember.

During the “Friends and Family Weekend,” friends and family members are invited to come to the Love In Action campus to visit with their “struggling” loved one. After a counseling session beforehand, they are ushered into a room and are seated on one side. The clients are then brought into the room and made to stand before their families and friends. They are then ordered to read aloud from their personal inventory — with complete details over their most humiliating sexual act or fantasy. This, they read aloud in front of their parents, friends, siblings — whoever happens to be there for the weekend.

Now I mentioned the counseling session beforehand. That is key. Visitors are advised ahead of time that they will likely hear something very disturbing from their loved one, and that a key component of this “therapy” is that they are not to offer any approval for their client. They can’t say, “we love you anyway”, they can’t say “we forgive you,” they can’t say anything positive. Instead, they are instructed to condemn their loved one, to tell them how disappointed they are, how disgusted they are, and so forth. The effects of this encounter have often been devastating to clients and family members alike.

As I said, I have independent corroboration from three different former clients. Some have been able to repair their relationships with their parents.  But I do know that this isn’t always the case. The ruptured relationships between some and their family continues to this day. For too many fathers and mothers who heard their own son describe the intimate details of a sexual hook-up, they simply cannot look at him the same way again.

Lambda Legal advises:

Anyone who may have been harmed by any sort of counselor or therapist should contact Lambda Legal or a local lawyer as soon as possible. All states have a “statute of limitations” which limits the length of time for filing a lawsuit. These periods vary greatly, and may have exceptions if the patient is a minor. To best protect your legal rights, it is very important to consult an attorney sooner rather than later.

Whether or not someone can take legal action against an “ex-gay” counselor or facility will depend on factors including the law of the state where you met with the practitioner and the specific facts. There are many reasons “ex-gay” programs or practitioners may be liable for harm. If representatives of an “ex-gay” program make false claims, they may have committed fraud, breach of contract, or violated state laws against unfair business practices. If a practitioner does not adequately describe the potential harms of an “ex-gay” program, he or she may be liable for violating the duty to get consent from a person seeking care. If a practitioner is not qualified to provide therapy for a specific mental health condition and fails to refer to a qualified doctor or psychologist, he or she may be liable for negligence or violating rules governing professional licenses. If a counselor threatens to “out” you to your community if you decide you do not want to continue therapy, he or she may be liable under state law. If a practitioner tells third parties about details of your life or your same-sex attractions, that could violate your right to privacy. It is impossible to list all of the factors that might be important in evaluating whether or not someone harmed by an “exgay” program or practitioner may be able to sue in court or take other legal actions, so it is important to consult an attorney. Minors as well as adults have legal rights, including the right to consult with an attorney.

You can call Lambda Legal toll free at 866-542-8336.

TWO Calls Out Becket Fund in Full Page Ad

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2008

We’ve already talked about the full-page ad placed by the Becket Fund in last Friday’s New York Times which falsely characterized the peaceful protests against California’s Proposition 8 as “mob violence.” And we also provided evidence of some of that ad’s cosigners’ undisguised hatred against gay people.

Tomorrow, Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out will counter that ad with a full-page ad in the Salt Lake City Tribune. TWO’s ad calls attention the the Becket Fund’s ad demanding an end to “anti-religious bigotry” against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

“Beginning today,” they wrote, “We commit ourselves to opposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry, against any faith, on any side of the cause, for any reason.

TWO responds by including some rather shameful anti-religious sputterings by three of the Becket Fund ad’s cosigners:

“Hollywood is controlled by secular Jewswho hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.” – Bill Donohue, Catholic League

“Mormonism either affirms historic Christianity, or it doesn’t. Since it doesn’t, it can’t call itself Christianity – a fact that all the good will and public relations in Utah can’t change. …”While Mormons share some beliefs with Christians, they are not Christians.” –Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship Ministries

“Most evangelicals still regard Mormonism as a cult.” — Rich Cizik, National Association of Evangelicals

Here is the TWO ad. (Click on the image to see the full-size version.)

Another Researcher Blasts Focus On the Family

Jim Burroway

May 1st, 2008

Focus On the Family has a long history of misrepresenting legitimate social science research, and researchers are starting to raise their voices in protest. The latest to join the chorus of outrage is Dr. Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. When he discovered that Focus On the Family was misrepresenting his 1992 paper, he wrote an open letter to Focus on the Family’s James Dobson to stop misrepresenting his work. That open letter has been posted at Truth Wins Out:

I want to draw your attention to a gross misrepresentation of our research at the website of “Focus on the Family” In the third paragraph of the article, “Myths and Facts,” our research is cited in support of the statement: “During early adolescence, many children experience a period of sexual-identity confusion when they can easily be influenced in either direction.”

First, please note that the citation itself is incorrect. The original article was published in Pediatrics, not Journal of Pediatrics. … More important, had the authors of “Myths and Facts” actually read the article, they would have found no support for their contention that “many children experience a period of sexual-identity confusion when they can be influenced in either direction.” The word confusion does not appear in our article; nor did we find that anyone can influence a young person’s sexual identity.

Day Of “Truth”?

Jim Burroway

April 9th, 2007

April 18th is the annual observance of the Day of Silence, a student-run even to bring awareness to the silencing effect that anti-LGBT bullying and discrimination has in the schools. Anti-gay groups are countering that with a so-called “Day of Truth” to be held the following day. Truth Wins Out has released a brand new video featuring Ex-Gay Watch’s Daniel Gonzales which examines the “truthiness” of the “Day of Truth” web site.

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