WASHINGTON—The cultural shift on same-sex marriage can be traced in large part to people who personally know someone who identifies as homosexual. If a friend is gay, it becomes harder for the average person—who doesn’t have biblical convictions—to oppose the behavior, which is why homosexual activists have for decades urged people to “come out of the closet.”
On Wednesday, a small band of former homosexuals representing about 10 organizations stood on the steps of the Supreme Court to demand recognition and equal rights under the Constitution.
“Anti-ex-gay extremists say that I do not exist—that we don’t exist,” said Christopher Doyle, president of Voice of the Voiceless and Equality and Justice for All. “Tell that to my wife of seven years. Tell that to my three beautiful children.”
Some of the activists spent the morning in meetings on Capitol Hill. Doyle told me he met with Democrats and Republicans, all cordial, but “Republicans were definitely more sympathetic.”
Wednesday’s event marked the first Ex-Gay Pride Month, which the group designated the month of July. Organizers had originally planned a reception for Wednesday night at the Family Research Council, but emailed and phoned threats from homosexual activists caused them to postpone the event until September at an undisclosed location. Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, will receive the first Ex-Gay Pride Freedom Award at the event.
Greg Quinlan, president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), said homosexual activists have no room for other opinions because they want to “take over” education, healthcare, and government, so theirs is the only voice heard. Quinlan, a lobbyist, said he learned his trade while working with the Human Rights Campaign Fund in the 1980s and ‘90s.
“When you see that equality sign in their logo, it’s not about equality—it’s about dominance,” Quinlan told me. “It’s not about human rights. It’s about sexual rights of a small sexual minority.”
The assembled speakers on Wednesday only numbered about a dozen, but they said there are thousands of ex-gays around the country who are afraid to identify as such.
“I have suffered more discrimination and intolerance as an ex-gay than I did when I was actually in the [homosexual] lifestyle,” said Grace Harley, an African-American woman who lived for 18 years as a transgendered man named Joe. “Former homosexuals like me need protection.”
Harley said the fear of those who have overcome unwanted same-sex attraction creates misunderstanding and harm toward the ex-gay community: “Ex-gays are more hated than gays are.” She and other speakers called on Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy—who authored last month’s Defense of Marriage Act decision—to recognize the persecution happening to ex-gays and take action.
Most participants explained how they believe they ended up in the homosexual lifestyle, including childhood sexual abuse, emotionally incestuous relationships with parents, and unresolved bitterness toward fathers.
One man, Chuck Peters, said he was molested by his Boy Scout troop leader, which sexually dis-oriented him and led to 22 years in the homosexual lifestyle. He held up a printed copy of sworn testimony from Nicholas Cummings, the former American Psychological Association president who led the effort to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness, saying that homosexuals can change.
Peters said after his boyfriend died of AIDS, he decided to seek therapy to determine why he had such a strong attachment to other men. He eventually found the help he sought, but not before being told “over and over again that I was born that way and I should accept it.” Peters, now the clinical director of the Sexual Orientation Change Institute in Beverly Hills, Calif., said therapists told him he had internal homophobia that made him not want to be homosexual.
Richard Cohen, who appeared with his wife of 33 years, said he was delivered from unwanted same-sex attraction and now helps others do the same. Cohen is a psychotherapist and founder of International Healing Foundation and said through thousands of counseling sessions he’s found there are many reasons people become gay. He said he has an 85 percent success rate with those who want to change their orientation, using a three-step process: Identifying root causes, healing root causes, and helping people bond in friendship with their own gender.
“We should have the right, like all Americans, to be able to express our views without intimidation,” Doyle said while wearing a pink “Ex-Gay is ok!” lapel pin. “We’re not going anywhere.”