Wayne Besen is the leader of Truth Wins Out, which is a gay right group that focuses on the issue of combatting the lies spread by the so called "ex-gay" movement. The "ex-gay" movement is a religiously-powered movement which tries to convince gay people to change their sexual oriention using their "therapy", which is sometimes called "conversion therapy", "reparative therapy", "transformational ministry", or "sexual reorientation". PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays) is a classic group. Their purported conversions are questioned by the scientific community and Besen points to data that cast doubt on the ex-gay conversions in his book, Anything But Straight. In addition to false stories of conversion, there are true stories of emotional damage done by these "therapies" that try to aggressively convince their clients that their same-sex attractions are pathological when they are really not, and that their attractions can be changed when really they cannot be. When the demonization of one's ownnatural thoughts turns out to produce nothing, many clients sink into depression, and sometimes suicide.
To me, the most criminal thing this movement has done is push parents to force their teen or pre-teen children into one of these camps and to aggressively push adult members to get married to someone of the opposite sex to "affirm" their change. Years later, the couple breaks up, after years of trying to deceive themselves that the gay spouse is heterosexual, "if only they could try".
Discussion of Barack Obama and his support for gay rights.
Wayne talks, in the above link, about the how Barack's public campaigning has many gay voters confused as to his support for gay rights. We all know he doesn't support marriage (none of the main Dems do), but people are wondering about his association with, and acceptance of support from, advocates for ex-gay conversion, such as African-American gospel singer Donnie McClurkin.
My sister and I talked about this conflict among pro-gay supporters. At the time of our discussion, early November, we both seemed in agreement that Obama was doing nothing wrong in associating or receiving support from ex-gay advocates. Are we supposed to shun the people we disagree with? How do you build any unity from that? I even wrote a letter to the Washington Blade describing these thoughts. (scroll down to my letter "Don't ditch Obama over McClurkin Controversy", right under Alvin McEwin's letter with the opposing viewpoint.)
While I still think there's strong truth in my original thoughts, I wonder if there might be more to the story. Wayne gives his thoughts.
Wayne writes a pretty balanced piece. He contests my sister's and my thesis, that Obama's associations are a non-issue. Besen counters by saying "It is fair to judge people by the company they keep." But he also says that Barack has a strong record of support for gay rights (except marriage) and that that record should be known by voters. This includes Barack speaking to a black church about how "we the black community" are guilty of committing oppression against gays the same way others committed oppression against blacks:
“For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man,” Obama preached. “And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.”
To me, this is good example of Barack's promise, "I won't tell people what they want to hear, I will tell them what they need to hear."
Finally Besen says that all the leading Dems are more or less equally good on gay rights. Thus gay voters and pro-gay voters should focus on other issues like the war or economy. I agree strongly with this.
So Besen rounds himself well. Care to read?