July 07, 2007

Report from the MCC Global Conference

The affirming Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) recently held it's annual global conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the stories featured in this Arizona Republic article was global and moving.

Garfield Mullings prays in secret. He worships while looking over his shoulder because he is a member of what is called the "gay church" in Jamaica. And that association could cost him his life.

"Living as a member of the community there is something that has to be done with the utmost care and utmost caution. People have to be very, very careful," said the parishioner of the Metropolitan Community Church. He goes by the name Mullings to protect his true identity, and potentially his life, from his countrymen.

But this week, Mullings said he prayed without fear. He was one of roughly 1,450 worshippers attending the Metropolitan Community Church global conference in Scottsdale.

"It's been overwhelming. To be able to be in an affirming place - where we can worship without having to look over our shoulders - is psychologically lifting," Mullings said.

The Rev. Rowland Jide Macaulay said he recognized that same thirst in Nigeria, where he began a branch of Metropolitan Community Church in the country about 10 months ago.

"The presence of the church is making a difference in the community," Macaulay said. "We have a lot of gay and lesbian people coming out because we're reaching out."

In Nigeria, families often will disown children who come out as gay, said Macaulay, who has dual citizenship in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

"Coming out in Nigeria equals either suicide or death. We're working around that because we want coming out to be liberating," Macaulay said.

Homosexuality is against the law in Nigeria. Consensual homosexual conduct between adults is punished by 14 years in prison, according to Human Rights Watch.

I think it's good to hear these stories every now and then to keep a proper perspective on the fight for GLBT equality in the United States.

I did not know that MCC had an international reach. Good work on their part creating a safe place for worship in unsafe part of the globe.

Apparently They're Just Born That Way

No, this post is not about what you might think from that title. It is a wickedly clever essay from Ethics Daily writer Miguel De La Torre. I'm posting it here in it's entirety without further comment.

A recent study released by the Baptist Journal of Behavioral Science concluded that conservatism is not a choice, but rather a genetic trait.

Dr. Quack is quoted as saying: "For centuries, liberals have imposed their views upon science, insisting that being a conservative was a lifestyle, a choice made by an individual. Now, beyond a shadow of doubt, we have proven that conservatives are simply born that way."

The scientific announcement sent shockwaves throughout the country. Church ministers were among the first to dismiss the study.

"The Bible is clear about this issue," said Rev. DoGood. "Engaging in conservative issues is just so unnatural. Why, even Jesus tells the rich young conservative ruler to give everything to the poor, and then to follow Him. The problem is that conservatives refuse to read the Bible literally."

When questioned about the numerous incidents of conservative bashing taking place within the church, Rev. Dogood shot back: "Look, I'm no conservaphobic. Some of my best friends are conservatives. I just love the sinner, but hate the sin."

For years, organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union have led self-help courses to get conservatives to renounce their evil ways and embrace liberalism. They would force the attendees to read The New York Times and expose them to tax-and-spend fiscal policies.

For those who appeared hopelessly lost to conservatism, coordinators applied tough love by tying them to a chair and making them watch countless hours of former presidential candidate John Kerry's campaign speeches. But most never renounced their conservatism. In fact, many just started dating each other. "This was disappointing," said Ms. Loveless, a coordinator with the ACLU. "It just proves how these types of people cling to their wickedness, refusing the truth of liberal policies."

Others insist that one can still be a conservative and a Christian. A handsome young man with a long and thick mustache who was interviewed for this survey refused to give his name for fear that it would devastate his very liberal parents.

He said: "In Jeremiah, God says that He knew us in our mother's womb. God, who predestines everything, made me a conservative, and that should just be OK." His companion, with whom he has engaged in several profitable joint ventures, went on to say: "The church constantly taught that being a conservative was a sin. Man, I felt that it was the only thing the Bible ever spoke about. I finally came to believe that as long as I did not engage in social issues, I was not sinning. But now, with this new study, I am free from the guilt trip placed on me by the church."

One mother, who took her child for counseling after discovering photos of Cheney and Rumsfeld under his bed mattress, was relieved. "I always blamed myself," she said. "His father was very domineering, and I refused to work outside the home. I felt so guilty for creating an environment that led him to become a conservative. But now I realize it's not my fault. God made him a conservative and I must learn to accept that."

She now plans to join the local chapter of the Friends and Family of Conservatives, a support group that teaches liberals to accept their conservative children.

But much work still needs to be done, especially in academia. "We expect to keep the liberal in a liberal arts education," said president Smart of Leftwing U. But students at that college are beginning to organize to fight what they say is an unjust bias. "I've had students lean out of car windows and call me a 'Bushie.' It was so humiliating."

Some students have spent years petitioning the school to allow them to begin the Conservative/Liberal Alliance. "They finally gave in," said a founding member of the student-run organization, "but they still insisted that the president of the alliance could not be a conservative."

When we consider that one in seven individuals have had a conservative experience, the release of this study can have profound effect on explaining human behavior.

"OK," said one of the study's researchers. "It's true. One election day when I was very young I got drunk and voted for Reagan. I felt so dirty and ashamed afterwards. But that youthful indiscretion shouldn't label me a conservative for life!"

A local minister, who refused to give his name for fear it might lead to a split at the church, confessed that every so often he wakes up in a cold sweat--having had a fantasy dream about Pat Buchanan.

Experiences like these appear more common then most are willing to admit.

But the study raises some profound questions that can have a long-term impact upon the overall culture. Specifically, can conservatives legally marry?

Why We Need Workplace Discrimination Protection for GLBT Employees

From the Gay City (New York) News:

Stating that nobody can use their First Amendment religious rights as "a cloak for acts of discrimination or as a justification of practices inconsistent with the protection against invidious discrimination," a state Supreme Court justice has ruled that a "Christian" employer must answer questions about his religious beliefs concerning homosexuality during the discovery phase of a sexual orientation bias case.

According to the June 28 opinion by Justice Carol Robinson Edmead, John Fairchild, a gay man, was hired in May 2005 by Ted Doudak, the president of Long Island City-based Riva Jewelry Manufacturing, Inc., to be vice president of sales and marketing. At the time, Doudak did not know Fairchild's sexual orientation.

According to Fairchild's complaint, Doudak frequently expressed explicitly Bible-based homophobic views in the workplace and directed him to deal with two gay representatives from Tiffany's, because Doudak did not want to have direct contact with them.

When Fairchild picked up a "lesbian magazine" for his daughter who is lesbian, Doudak noticed it on his desk and questioned him about it. Fairchild explained that his daughter is a lesbian and "Mr. Doudak immediately began to denigrate homosexuals and lesbians," according to Edmead's summary of the civil complaint. When Fairchild insisted he is proud of his daughter, Doudak allegedly opened up a Bible and began quoting verses indicating that gays and lesbians are "doomed to eternal damnation."

Doudak fired Fairchild the next day, purportedly for "poor work performance." Fairchild maintains he was an exemplary employee and Doudak had never complained prior to this incident.

If Fairchild's claims come anywhere near representing the truth, and if Doudak does not have Fairchild's "poor work performance" documented out the wazoo, Fairchild has an excellent chance of winning his case.

Fortunately for Fairchild, he worked in a state where Doudak could be held accountable for his bigotry. In many other states across the nation, he would have had no recourse.

This is why there needs to be federal legislation protecting employees from discrimination due to their sexual orientation. It shouldn't be okay to discriminate in Virginia but not okay in New York. Put simply, it's either wrong or it isn't. The right wingers love to hang on to "states rights" because they know there are still many states where this kind of protection would not pass the legislatures.

That still doesn't make it right.

July 06, 2007

Time Magazine On Gay Adoption

Time magazine covers the issue of same-sex couples adopting children, what they call gay adoption, this week. The article points out the growing acceptance of this practice and the momentum in state legislatures across the nation to make this clearly legal--up to this point most states had not addressed the issue, making same-sex adoption a veritable crap shoot than is subject to winding up in court.

But the gay adoption boom may be less about support for gay rights than it is about the urgency of finding homes for abandoned children. There are as many as 120,000 in the U.S. waiting to be adopted. After Congress ordered states in 1997 to move faster to find more families willing to take in these kids, "child-welfare organizations banded together to get legislatures to allow any qualified parent to adopt, irrespective of sexual orientation," says Rob Woronoff, gay and lesbian program director at the Child Welfare League of America in Washington. The movement got a boost in 2002 when the American Academy of Pediatrics said the "health, adjustment and development" of kids adopted by gay parents were no worse than those of kids placed with heterosexuals. By 2006, a Pew Center poll found, support of gay adoption had risen from 38% in 1999 to 46% and opposition had fallen from 57% to 48%.

While adopted children in gay and lesbian homes were scarce a couple of decades ago, they now number 65,000, or more than 4% of adopted children in the U.S., according to a new study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Washington's Urban Institute. Almost 2% of the nation's 3 million same-sex households include adopted children--and that growing pool, the UCLA study estimates, currently saves U.S. taxpayers as much as $130 million a year in costs for, say, keeping children in foster or institutional care and recruiting adoptive parents for them.

While adopted children in gay and lesbian homes were scarce a couple of decades ago, they now number 65,000, or more than 4% of adopted children in the U.S.

Can anyone tell me what the problem with this could be? Oh yeah, there's always the regressive folks at Focus on the (Straight) Family:

Bill Maier, Focus' vice president and chief psychologist, insists the practice "hurts children because it intentionally creates motherless or fatherless families," and he accuses child-welfare agencies of "a real biased push to normalize same-sex parenting." He adds, "I don't see any shortage of heterosexual parents willing to adopt."

Intentionally creates motherless or fatherless families? I believe that's already happened, Mr. Maier, that's why these kids need to be adopted! Are you stupid or just a bigot?

Don't see any shortage of heterosexual parents willing to adopt? If that's true, what's the deal with the 120,000 kids waiting to be adopted? Are they just waiting for a better offer or perhaps they like not having ANY parents, which Mr. Maier and his group believe is preferable to having two parents of the same sex.

The religious right likes to put civil rights up for a vote, why don't we let those 120,000 kids vote on which they would like, two mommies or two daddies vs. no mommies or no daddies.

Kids aren't stupid and they're less bigoted than grown ups, so I'm pretty sure how that vote would go.

A Law Professor Looks at Marriage as a Trademark

What if the concept of marriage was trademarked, like "Coke "? How would allowing same-sex couples affect the value of that trademark? An essay by a law professor on Slate.com asked and answered those questions.

But the objection snaps into focus when you look at marriage as a form of intellectual property (as my colleague Carol Rose, an expert in property law, encouraged me to do). The law of trademark, particularly the doctrine of tarnishment, is particularly illuminating here. A trademark is a mark a person or business uses to brand its products or services. A "tarnishment" claim arises when a competitor uses that mark in a way that diminishes its cachet.

But tarnishment analysis cannot justify the objection it illuminates for at least two reasons. First, intellectual property law seeks to protect intangible goods that belong to people because they have created and built up good will for them. No such claim can be made about state-sponsored marriage, because no individual invented marriage, and no individual owns it. Second, and probably more importantly, the tarnishment analogy reveals the homophobia in Hyde's claim. Tarnishment claims arise only when the mark is being associated with something uniformly deemed unsavory. The paradigm case is a famous mark used in a sexually explicit context, like the 1996 case in which the game manufacturer Hasbro successfully barred a sexually explicit Web site from using "Candyland" as part of its domain name. To say that marriage would be tarnished by including gays is an oblique way of saying straight marriage is sacred while gay marriage is profane.

The fear of tarnishment is why some believe gay marriage will negatively affect straight marriage. But it is also the reason they should not be allowed to prevail. If marriage is changed to include all couples who subscribe to its values, the institution will not be tarnished, but burnished.

Rather than same-sex couples diminishing the institution of marriage, I have grown to believe that in fact excluding them diminishes it. Any straight couple that believes their marriage would be devalued by allowing same-sex couples the same legal rights probably has issues of their own they should be focusing on and leave others alone.

July 05, 2007

Former GLBT "National Role Model" Changes His Tune

From the AFA's "news" arm, One News Now:

For years, Michael Glatze was a prominent spokesman in the homosexual rights movement. In fact, at age 22, he became editor of Young Gay America magazine. He also has received a number of awards, including the "National Role Model Award" from the Equality Forum, an organization that promotes "gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender civil rights."

But in an article published today by WorldNetDaily, Glatze says he began to question his purpose and role in life two years ago -- and that led him to God's truth about homosexuality, sin, and forgiveness. "Now I know that homosexuality is lust and pornography wrapped into one," he writes. "I'll never let anybody try to convince me otherwise, no matter how slick their tongues or how sad their story. I have seen it. I know the truth."

To say that homosexuality is "lust and pornography wrapped into one" is purely imbecilic. That totally dismisses the thousands upon thousands of long-term loving relationships same-sex partners have enjoyed. How about that couple from New York I recently posted about that had been together 62 years? That a lot of lust and porn, and the idea of that is a large steaming pile of stupid.

I hope Glatze, who has fallen under the mentorship of notorious ex-gay Stephen Bennett, keeps to that extreme view because that will make it very easy to negate his message of hate and self-loathing to any rational person.

I also hope you will join me in praying for him, that he can find peace and ask the Lord to help him understand and accept himself for whatever he may truly be. I also pray that Bennett doesn't succeed in using Glatze to lead more confused, struggling GLBT people into the dark, deep hole of denial, one that is extremely difficult to climb out of.

July 04, 2007

Scepticism About Latest "Ex-Gays"

That's Wayne Besen's take on the newest poster children for the "ex-gay" movement.

Charlene Cothran (Venus magazine) and Michael Glatze (Young Gay America magazine editor) were gay niche publishers who discovered that peddling fiction is much juicer (and potentially more profitable) than selling straight news on gay life. The newly minted "ex-gay" stars tell us they have seen the light - unfortunately, it appears to be the spotlight - as they now parade themselves in the Christian media, pawning their terrific tales of transformation. Cothran and Glatze explain that they are simply offering a small snapshot of their new lives, but it sure seems like a full-blown photo shoot.

Interestingly, both Cothran and Glatze found God and renounced homosexuality shortly after they split up from what they once considered their spouses. In a sense, it seems like these break-ups caused nervous breakdowns where the embittered party tried to punish an "ex" by becoming ex-gay.

Check out the rest of Wayne's column, where as usual he supports his points with some interesting detail.

A Prayer For Freedom on Independence Day

We Americans are celebrating our independence today on the aptly named Independence Day, also aptly known as the Fourth of July (to my friends over in the U.K., no hard feelings, okay?).

We here a lot of prattling on in what passes for political discourse these days about what our founding fathers had in mind for this nation, but there is one indisputable truth; they wanted freedom. This is ironic, of course, since most if not all of them owned slaves. but over the centuries our society has learned more about what the idea of freedom truly is.

From my point of view, the United States is set up for individuals to live in whatever manner they see fit as long as that does not infringe on another person's ability to do the same.

We've still got some work to do on that, because there are many GLBT Americans who do not enjoy that freedom and the civil rights that go along with it.

I saw this prayer on Ethics Daily that I thought would be appropriate to share with you. It is a prayer that thanks God for our nation's freedom that also asks for His leadership to exercise that freedom responsibly. I'm posting it in its entirety below. Have a blessed Fourth everyone!

Gracious God, as we celebrate our nation's Independence Day, we approach you with hearts that are simultaneously brimming with gratitude and weighted with concern.

We are grateful for the privilege of living in "the land of the free and the home of the brave." We are thankful for specific liberties that allow us to freely choose our vocation, our community of worship, our place of service and our venues of recreation. And we are indebted to generations of veteran servants who risked life and limb in the pursuit and protection of these liberties. From the "mountains to the prairies" we are inspired by some of the most diverse and beautiful terrain on our planet. From "sea to shining sea" we are privileged to access a mother lode of the world's natural resources. We have access to prime healthcare, comfortable housing, diverse modes of transportation, more than adequate clothing and an abundant selection of food. We are blessed far beyond our deserving.

But during this season of celebration our grateful hearts are heavy with concern. From our many different perspectives and ideologies we are concerned about things like the threats of terrorism, the brutalities of war, the abuse of political power, the divisiveness of harsh and misleading political rhetoric, a lack of civil discourse, a growing sense of moral anarchy and the possibility of an approaching storm or natural disaster. These concerns lead to heightened anxiety about the stability of the market, the costs of insurance and the tenure of our employment. And these anxieties often divert us from our mission to "minister to the least of these" and to "love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly" with you.

These concerns and anxieties also remind us of our need to confess our sins, personally and corporately. We confess that we have too often taken our freedom for granted and we have too frequently been slack in our citizenship. We confess that at times we are too quick to criticize naively and too slow to intercede prayerfully. We confess that our self-interests have too often taken priority over the best interest you have in mind for our nation and for our world. We confess that we have been irresponsible in our stewardship of "our space and our stuff," often consuming and storing compulsively without conscious regard for sharing. We confess that we have too often trusted in our own initiatives and ingenuity more than we have trusted in you.

You tell us in time-tested Scripture that, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (II Chronicles 7:14)

As we approach this Independence Day, we ask you to forgive our sin and to heal our land.

On this day, we pray for the leaders of our nation, our state, and our community that they will lead with wisdom and discernment.

We pray for the men and women who serve in our nation's military that they will fulfill their mission with courage and return home safely and soon.

We pray for our enemies that their swords will also be "turned into plowshares."

We pray for the churches, cathedrals, and temples of our nation and our community that we will be lighthouses of grace and mercy, ever pressing toward the mark of our high calling.

Because you are the freedom-loving God, lead us to exercise our freedom responsibly and to pursue "liberty and justice for all" of your children around the globe.

We pray in the strong name of the one who came to set us free. Amen.

July 03, 2007

People Actually Believe This Crap!

An aggressive enemy of the GLBT community is flourishing in the Tuscon, Arizona area. The Tuscon Community Church bills itself as "The Cool Church." Apparently they believe preaching horrendous lies about homosexuality is cool, and plenty of people are buying it.

From the front page of the Tuscon Star:

Leaders of a growing local congregation that advertises itself as "The Cool Church" are telling their parishioners that being gay will take 30 years off a person's life, prompting accusations that they are perpetuating "really uncool, deeply homophobic" lies.

(Pastor David) McAllister was particularly upset with the characterization of his church being uncool.

"I can't imagine anything more uncool than supporting a lifestyle or behavior that would be detrimental to the people who practice it," he said Saturday.

In addition to saying that homosexuals will have shortened lives, the Tucson Community Church's Web site says that gays and lesbians are more likely than heterosexuals to be involved in violence and become addicts of various sorts. Also on the site, the church's leaders, who say being gay is a choice, urge their worshippers to "fight" what they call an onslaught of homosexual-sex activists.

The church, which caters to young families and has more than 2,000 members, recently opened its fourth location in Midtown and calls itself "one of the fastest-growing churches in America."

Here's the part that really frosts me:

"Pastor David is just incredible in the way he presents God's word, and he always does it with love," said parishioner Parks Rinehart, 52, an automation equipment assembler who joined the church seven years ago with his then-teenage son. He had tried other churches, but until he found the Tucson Community Church, he never found answers about the Bible that made sense.

Rinehart has seen the church's claims about the life spans of gay people on its Web site, and though he found the numbers to be startling, he said he had no reason to believe they were not true.

"They don't realize the destructive lifestyle they are living," he said.

No reason to believe the church's claims were not true!? Here's one reason--you and millions like you have a brain and need to use it!

I get very angry when I read about churches like this and people like Mr. Rinehart that mindlessly follow along with what they are told. It's easy to do because it doesn't directly affect their lives, but I don't understand how anyone claiming to be a Christian can live with a belief system like that.

When Jesus was on the earth, he didn't have to lift a finger to help anyone. He could have lived like a king without a worry in the world. In fact, He could have even BEEN king. After all, he was the Son of God. He didn't do that, however. He obeyed His Father's wishes and allowed Himself to be crucified to establish the path to salvation. He acted outside of His best interests, putting litteraly everyone on Earth and all those to follow ahead of Him.

We are told in the Bible that we should live like Jesus. How do church people reconcile following the preaching of hatred like sheep with that?

I sure can't.

Thanks to Box Turtle Bulletin for the tip.

July 02, 2007

Why We Need Hate Crimes Legislation

From 365gay.com:

Nearly four in 10 gay men and about one in eight lesbians and bisexuals in the United States have been the target of violence or a property crime because of their sexual orientation, according to a new study.

"This is the most reliable estimate to date of the prevalence of anti-gay victimization in the United States," said University of California, Davis, psychology professor Gregory Herek who conducted the study.

"The data demonstrate that crimes against sexual minority adults, especially gay men, are disturbingly widespread."

There's a lot more statistical analysis in the article, and it's well worth reading, but the high level view in the excerpt I posted should be enough to convince any rational person that hate crimes against GLBT people, especially gay men, are a serious problem.

Anything happening to 40% of any minority needs to be taken seriously and stopped!


People can not be forced to accept or respect GLBT people, but they need to be held accountable when they act upon their hatred and bigotry.

Anyone who is not full of that hatred and bigotry should be able to see that very clearly. To state that in a form that even the folks on the religious right can understand, Jesus would not abuse GLBT people! What is so difficult to understand about that?

Of course, hatred and bigotry has a way of clouding people's judgement so they have trouble seeing much beoynd that.

Huge crowds celebrate Euro Pride

From The Advocate:

Hundreds of thousands of people from across Europe packed into Madrid on Saturday and joined in a gay pride parade that saluted Spain's socialist government for introducing legislation that has turned this once deeply conservative nation into a bastion of gender equality.

For days, buses and airplanes had arrived in Madrid loaded with people set on taking advantage of a four-day annual gay festival, which started Wednesday in the Spanish capital's colorful Chueca neighborhood as a prelude to Saturday's bigger, continentwide Euro Pride events.

Around 200 cultural, festive and sporting events were organized around Madrid, where organizers estimated as many as 2.5 million people were taking part.

While there's nothing wrong with just gathering for a big party, there was also a serious nature to this event. Many of the floats and participants in the parade carried signs promoting an issue pertaining to GLBT rights, and plenty of them were supportive of the beleagured GLBT community in Poland. There was even an organized protest in front of the Polish embassy Madrid calling for equality for the gay community in that nation.

I'm glad to see that the revelers did not lose sight of those less fortunate, who couldn't even dream of having a Pride celebration in their home country.

July 01, 2007

Love in Action Shuts Down Youth "Refuge"

Good news from Box Turtle Bulletin:

Remember Zach, the 16-year-old whose MySpace blog revealed that he was about to be involuntarily committed to Love In Action’s youth live-in program “Refuge” in 2005? He was committed to a two-month stay in the residential program, and his plight spawned international outrage along with unprecedented protests in Memphis. It also inspired filmmaker Morgan Fox to begin filming the documentary, “This Is What Love In Action Looks Like.”

This evening at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in Irvine, California, we screened short excerpts of several documentary films including Fox’s unfinished work. Just before Fox’s extended trailer was shown, we learned that he had to make a very quick last-minute change to the ending today. And when we saw that ending, the crowd erupted in both cheers and tears as we saw that Love In Action Director John Smid confirmed that the “Refuge” youth program has been “dissolved.”

There were many cathartic moments at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, but for me at least, this surprise announcement was the most satisfying. I hope this will finally bring to an end any ideas that holding youth against their will for counseling they neither need nor desire is acceptable in a civilized country. This is a great step forward.

I echo that sentiment. Any evidence of a retraction in the efforts of groups like this is a good thing for GLBT people and gives them a better chance to discover at their own pace how God made them and who they truly are.

CNN Feature on Homosexuality

Yet another piece about homosexuality is up on CNN.com this morning, this one covering the issue of whether it is a choice or not. Citing the study I posted about yesterday, for the first time a majority of Americans believe it is NOT a choice, it is something people are born with.

For the Rev. Mel White, the founder and president of faith-based gay rights group Soulforce, the poll results were a "tremendous relief."

"The poll is such good news," White said Thursday. "Over half of America thinks we don't have to be healed from a sickness; suddenly we are OK as we are."

The change in thinking among Americans can be attributed to more and more people getting to know gays and lesbians as they come out, White said.

"Once they know us, they will support us," he said, adding that the idea extended to faith-based organizations that currently oppose gay rights, White said.

"Until the church changes, this debate will go on and on and on," he said. "Once the church changes, it'll be over."

Of course, not everyone is happy, particularly the folks at Focus on the (Straight) Family:

This "shows that our reach is not as great as the mainstream media and entertainment industry," said Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy for the Family Research Council.

"People are believing what they are hearing, and it's not the truth," he said, adding that it was disappointing Americans had succumbed to what he called a "myth" that gays and lesbians cannot change. They can change, but it is difficult, he said.

Melissa Fryrear, director of gender issues for Focus on the Family, said she found the results unfortunate -- not only because they run counter to the beliefs of her group but to her personal experience as well.

"I know that homosexuality can be overcome because that's the story of my life," she said. Fryrear said she lived as a lesbian for nearly a decade before becoming a Christian and later "overcoming" her homosexuality through a long process of change and self-examination.

"I'm changed. I'm a heterosexual woman now. I'm not sexually attracted to women. I am romantically and sexually attracted to men."

I believe that since God can heal cancer from our bodies, he is capable of changing someone's sexual orientation, but my studies tell me that there is an enormously greater chance that Ms. Fryrear either was never actually a lesbian or else she is in deep, deep, denial. Regardless, I hope that she and those who would agree with her either accept the fact that they weren't truly homosexual in the first place, or understand that God did not make us to deny a big part of the essence of who we are.

After five years of trying to date girls and to conform and conceal his sexuality, 18-year-old Steven Field told his friends and family that he was gay.

"I wasn't being honest to myself," Field, now 25, said of his closeted high school years in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.

Being gay was natural for him, Field, who lives in Washington, said in a Thursday phone interview. "I didn't choose to be gay anymore than straight people choose to be straight."

"I think it's important for everyone to be true to themselves," he said. "This is who I am and I'm proud of it."

Amen! God not only wants us to love Him, he wants us to be able to accept and love ourselves.