Features

In the trenches

"In the trenches" Continued...

Issue: "2009 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 19, 2009

Though Fish says the campaigns remained relatively civil, a few days after the vote workers at Stand for Marriage headquarters discovered a voicemail with a threatening message: "You're dead. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, you're dead." Fish says the group contacted the police, but he doesn't expect the investigation to go far. The call came from an untraceable number.

So did a similar call to Christian Civic League. Hein says he discovered a voicemail on Nov. 6 directed toward Mike Heath, the organization's former director, who had resigned in September. The caller said of Heath: "I'm a gay guy who owns guns, and he's my next target."

Hein says his group also called police, and that the threat is under investigation. He says it's not the first time they've faced intimidation: In a 2005 campaign against non-discrimination laws for gays, Hein says a vandal desecrated the organization's sign with an inverted cross in red spray paint. He also says hostile letters from anonymous sources are common, though typically not threatening.

Hein says he's not surprised by hostility: "Once you take up the mantle and a Christian worldview . . . you're going to touch some nerves." But he admits that the struggles can grow wearisome, and he says campaigns like this one "overwhelm everything else that you try to do. And that wears on you." Still, he says his group will prepare for what's next, including the possibility of another campaign against gay marriage. "It's wearying if you let it be," he says. "If the cause wasn't as just, you probably wouldn't be as enthusiastic about it."

That's what Len Deo tells himself. The director of the New Jersey Family Policy Council is active in his group's opposition to ongoing efforts to pass gay marriage legislation before Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine leaves office in January. Gay rights groups want lawmakers to pass the legislation that Corzine has promised to sign. Corzine's successor-the recently elected Republican Chris Christie-has promised he would oppose gay marriage.

By mid-November, the legislation was moving slowly-something Deo hopes is a good sign. Deo says his group is working with others to encourage citizens to write, call, and visit their lawmakers. He thinks legislators might worry about crossing voters who elected a Republican governor opposed to gay marriage. "I'm hopeful," he says. "But we're not stopping."

As similar battles loom in places like Washington, D.C., Fish says there's no time to stop. And he says that citizens in other states should begin preparing for the possibility that they'll face a similar struggle. "If there is any kind of buzz about legalizing same-sex marriage, it should be taken seriously," he says. "It's not going to go away."

On the sidelines

When a gay activist 'comes out' for Christ, tables turn

By Jamie Dean

While devoted activists from both sides of the gay marriage debate plot strategy for their next moves, Michael Glatze mostly watches from the sidelines. That's surprising to some: Just four years ago, Glatze was a practicing homosexual, a prominent gay activist, and editor of a national magazine for gay youth. Two years ago, he publicly renounced homosexuality and asserted a belief in Christianity.

Glatze soon disappeared from the public eye, resisting a well-worn path: instant hero status for a new cause. In October, he re-emerged, granting a few interviews and writing a column for the conservative site WorldNetDaily about remaining straight and insisting that others "can and must" leave "the sin and practices of the lifestyle of homosexuality."

From his home in rural Colorado, Glatze says he still isn't looking to become a poster boy for the ex-gay movement, though he faces criticism that his recent musings are a ploy for attention. Instead, Glatze says he wants to tell his story, even as he continues to try to figure it out for himself.

Glatze's story as a gay man began in college, soon after his mother's death when Glatze was 20 years old. (His father died when Glatze was 13). "After that I remember thinking I could do anything and everything I ever thought was bad," he said. "And I did."

For Glatze, that meant homosexual activity and activism. He became leader of a gay student group at Dartmouth College. After college he and his partner founded a national magazine for gay youth. Time magazine interviewed him for a 2005 cover story called "The Battle Over Gay Teens" that pitted Glatze and other gay activists against Christian groups that warned youth about homosexuality.

"To me it felt like a whole new world, and I was the star," he said. "Because I stood for something. My life now meant something."

But as Glatze reached more people with his message, he grew increasingly uneasy. "I was ministering a gospel to them, and I began feeling like what I was telling them wasn't good," he said. "It was extremely horrifying."

As Glatze began doubting his own "gospel," he began reading the New Testament and asking the question: "What's wrong with my life?" He says he soon realized: "The most obvious answer was the one I had been avoiding." He typed on the computer in front of him: "Homosexuality is death. I choose life."

Glatze didn't know exactly what that meant, though he knew it meant leaving homosexuality. After he wrote a column about his new beliefs, "the gay community exploded," he says. Some expressed pity. Others expressed disdain. Christians expressed delight: Glatze says he received nearly 900 emails, mostly from Christians encouraging him and giving him advice, a process he found overwhelming. He considered going on the speaking circuit but decided to accept different counsel: Get his footing first. He remembers an email from someone who suggested that he work on his sanctification. "I realized I didn't know what sanctification was, and maybe I should find out," he says.

That search has led the man with a nominal Christian background down an unusual path: two months in the Mormon Church (he liked their conservative stance on homosexuality and abortion but not their doctrine), then one year at a Buddhist retreat center, retaining his Christian beliefs, he says, and reading writers like John Calvin, Martin Luther, and R.C. Sproul. This summer he began attending a local evangelical church, and he says: "I don't know why I didn't do this sooner." He recently moved in with a couple from the church and says he meets regularly with the pastor.

(He also occasionally writes or gives interviews. Critics recently seized on an unsavory blog post he wrote in October after former President Jimmy Carter said that racism played a part in people's objections to President Barack Obama. Glatze's blog post said Obama was "disgusting," adding: "And, yes, it's because he's black." Glatze says he's not a racist, and that the post was satire aimed at lampooning Carter's suggestion that disagreement with Obama is rooted in racism. Still, some have questioned his explanation, and his blog is no longer active.)

After a year of retreating from the world, Glatze says he's ready to "re-enter the land of the living" and looks forward to his involvement with the church, though he doesn't have definite plans. He may write a book but says he wants to be careful: "I've done a lot of that in the past-that 'I'm going to take over the world . . .'"-he says. "I don't have that kind of goal now."

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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