Thursday, November 22, 2012

Woman Charged in Shooting Death of Husband at Forest County Camp - Where Is The American Family Association of Pennsylvania When We Need 'Em?


FOREST COUNTY, Pa. (EYT) – Homicide charges have been filed against a Butler woman in connection with the alleged murder of her husband at a camp in Forest County on Saturday night.

58-year-old Ruth Maxine Angert, of Butler, is accused of killing her husband, 68-year-old Larry B. Angert, at a camp in Tionesta Township, Forest County, Pa.

Officials say Angert died as a result of an apparent gunshot wound to the face.

Ms. Angert, who faces charges of Criminal Homicide and Aggravated Assault, was placed in Warren County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.

She faces a preliminary hearing on Nov. 27.

Police say the case remains under investigation.

Venango County Corrections Officer Charged with Sex Crimes - Where Is the American Family Association of Pennsylvania When We Need 'Em?


FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – A corrections officer is accused of having sex with female inmates at the Venango County Prison.

Franklin police say an investigation into a reported sexual assault of a female inmate at Venango County Prison revealed that 50-year-old William W. Hunter of Oil City, engaged in sexual activity with two female inmates while he was on duty.

A report filed by Franklin Police Detective Kevin J. Lewis alleges sexual activity occurred between Hunter and two female inmates on various occasions.

Hunter was arraigned before District Judge Andrew Fish on one count of felony aggravated indecent assault, one count of felony institutional sexual assault, and two counts of misdemeanor official oppression.

He was placed in Clarion County Jail in lieu of $60,000 cash bail.

During the course of the investigation, Franklin police were assisted by District Attorney Marie T. Veon and the Venango County Prison’s administrative staff.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jon Stewart Looks At Bill O'Reilly's 'Traditional America'

The re-election of Barack Obama heralds the death of traditional America... as far as Bill O'Reilly is concerned anyway. Jon Stewart would beg to differ, however.

As it turns out, America has a long tradition of a more diverse class displacing the ruling class, and man, does the ruling class never like it... even if they were once that more diverse class themselves. In fact, did you know that once upon a time, Americans didn't think too highly of people named O'Reilly?

Watch Jon's thorough take down of O'Reilly's "traditional America" lamentations above.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sex, Lies, Email, Petraeus, CIA, Pentagon -- What Was That You Said About 'Gays In The Military' ??

from the Associated Press:

The sex scandal that led to CIA Director David Petraeus' downfall widened Tuesday with word the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is under investigation for thousands of alleged "inappropriate communications" with another woman involved in the case. Some of the material was "flirtatious," an official said.

Even as the FBI prepared a timeline for Congress about the investigation that brought to light Petraeus' extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta revealed that the Pentagon had begun an internal investigation into emails between Gen. John Allen and a Florida woman involved in the case.

Some of the 20,000-plus pages of documents and emails between Allen and Tampa socialite Jill Kelley were "flirtatious," according to a senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the case publicly. It wasn't immediately clear who wrote the flirtatious notes – Allen, Kelley or both.

Allen succeeded Petraeus as the top American commander in Afghanistan in July 2011, and his nomination to become the next commander of U.S. European Command and the commander of NATO forces in Europe has now been put on hold, as the scandal seemed certain to ensnare another acclaimed military figure.

In a White House statement early Tuesday, National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor said President Barack Obama has held Allen's nomination at Panetta's request. Obama, the statement said, "remains focused on fully supporting our extraordinary troops and coalition partners in Afghanistan, who Gen. Allen continues to lead as he has so ably done for over a year."

It was Broadwell's threatening emails to Kelley, a Petraeus family friend, that led to the FBI's discovery of communications between Broadwell and Petraeus indicating they were having an affair. Petraeus acknowledged the affair when he resigned from the CIA post on Friday.

In the latest revelations, a Pentagon official traveling with Panetta to Australia said "inappropriate communications" – 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails and other documents from Allen's communications with Kelley between 2010 and 2012 – are under review. The official would not say whether they involved sexual matters or whether they are thought to include unauthorized disclosures of classified information. He said he did not know whether Petraeus is mentioned in the emails.

Allen has denied wrongdoing. He was due to give Panetta a recommendation soon on the pace of U.S. troop withdrawals in 2013. If Allen was found to have had an affair with Kelley, he could face charges of adultery, which is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The decision by the FBI to hand off the Allen information to the military seems to indicate the issue is not one involving the handling of classified information, but rather some other issue.

The Petraeus case has sparked an uproar in Congress, with lawmakers complaining they should have been told earlier about the probe that has roiled the intelligence and military establishment.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the latest revelations in the case "a Greek tragedy."

"It's just tragic," King said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show. "This has the elements in some ways of a Hollywood movie or a trashy novel."

The issue of what the FBI knew, when it notified top Obama administration officials, and when Congress was told, has brought criticism from lawmakers, who say they should have been told earlier.

The White House wasn't informed of the FBI investigation that involved Petraeus until Nov. 6, Election Day, although agents began looking at Petraeus' actions months earlier, sometime during the summer. Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., complained that she first learned of the matter from the media late last week, and confirmed it in a phone call to the then-CIA director on Friday.

That was the same day Obama accepted Petraeus' resignation, and the 60-year-old retired Army general, who headed U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan before taking charge of the CIA, acknowledged an affair with Broadwell, and expressed regret.

Defending the notification timing, a senior federal law enforcement official pointed Monday to longstanding policies and practices, adopted following abuses and mistakes that were uncovered during the Nixon administration's Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. The Justice Department – of which the FBI is part – is supposed to refrain from sharing detailed information about its criminal investigations with the White House.

The FBI also looked into whether a separate set of emails between Petraeus and Broadwell might involve any security breach. That will be a key question Wednesday in meetings involving congressional intelligence committee leaders, FBI deputy director Sean Joyce and CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the investigation, said the FBI had concluded relatively quickly – and certainly by late summer at the latest – that there was no security breach. Absent a security breach, it was appropriate not to notify Congress or the White House earlier, this official said.

Extramarital affairs are viewed as particularly risky for intelligence officers because they might be blackmailed to keep the affair quiet. For military personnel, adultery is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

According to two federal law enforcement officials, the FBI initially began a criminal investigation of unsigned, harassing emails that were sent, beginning last May, to Kelley, a Tampa socialite. She and her husband, Scott, were longtime friends of Petraeus and his wife, Holly. FBI agents traced the alleged cyber harassment to Broadwell and during that process discovered she was exchanging intimate messages with a private Gmail account. Further investigation revealed that account belonged to Petraeus, under an alias.

Petraeus and Broadwell apparently used a trick, known to terrorists and teenagers alike, to conceal their email traffic, one of the law enforcement officials said.

Rather than transmitting emails to the other's inbox, they composed at least some messages and instead of transmitting them, left them in a draft folder or in an electronic "dropbox," the official said. Then the other person could log onto the same account and read the draft emails there. This avoids creating an email trail that is easier for outsiders to intercept or trace.

Agents later told Petraeus that Broadwell sent emails warning Kelley to stay away from the general and carrying a threatening tone.

Friends and former staff members of Petraeus told The Associated Press that he has assured them his relationship with Kelley was platonic, although Broadwell apparently saw her as a romantic rival. They said Petraeus was shocked to learn last summer of Broadwell's emails to Kelley.

Petraeus also denied to these associates that he had given Broadwell any sensitive military information.

FBI agents who contacted Petraeus told him that sensitive, possibly classified documents related to Afghanistan were found on her computer, the general's associates said. He assured investigators they did not come from him, and he mused to his associates that they were probably given to her on her reporting trips to Afghanistan by commanders she visited in the field there.

One associate also said Petraeus believes the documents described past operations and had already been declassified, although they might have still been marked "secret."

Broadwell had high security clearances as part of her former job as a reserve Army major in military intelligence. But those clearances are only in effect when a soldier is on active duty, which she was not at the time she researched the Petraeus biography.

The FBI concluded there was no security breach.

Nevertheless, FBI agents conducted a search of Broadwell's Charlotte, N.C., home on Monday. And the criminal investigation continued into the emails to Kelley, including whether Petraeus had any hand in them. At that point in late summer, FBI Director Robert Mueller and eventually Attorney General Eric Holder were notified that agents had uncovered what appeared to be an extramarital affair involving Petraeus.

Broadwell and Petraeus have each been questioned by FBI agents twice in recent weeks, with both acknowledging the affair in separate interviews. The FBI's most recent interviews with Broadwell and with Petraeus both occurred during the week of Oct. 29, days before the election, one of the law enforcement officials said. The FBI notified Obama's director of national intelligence, James Clapper, of the investigation on Tuesday, Nov. 6 – Election Day.

In another twist, an FBI agent who was a friend of Kelley and who passed along information from her to the agents who conducted the investigation, was subsequently told by his superiors to steer clear of the case because they grew concerned that the agent had become obsessed with the investigation, a federal law enforcement official said. Before the case involving Petraeus got under way, the agent had sent Kelley shirtless photos of himself, according to this official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.

Broadwell co-authored a biography titled "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus," published in January. She wrote that she met Petraeus in the spring of 2006 while she was a graduate student at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and she ended up following him on multiple trips to Afghanistan as part of her research.

Petraeus, 60, told one former associate he began an affair with Broadwell, 40, a couple of months after he became CIA director in September 2011. They mutually agreed to end the affair four months ago, but they kept in contact because she was still writing a dissertation on his time commanding U.S. troops overseas, the associate said.

Petraeus told former staffers and friends that he had regularly visited the Kelleys' home overlooking Tampa Bay. Kelley, 37, served as a sort of social ambassador for U.S. Central Command, hosting parties for the general when Petraeus was commander there from 2008-10.

Jill Kelley regularly kept in touch with Petraeus when he became commander of the Afghanistan war effort, the two exchanging near-daily emails and instant messages, two of his former staffers said. But those messages were exchanged in accounts that his aides monitored as part of their duties and were not romantic in tone, the staffers said.

Petraeus and his family are devastated over the affair – especially Mrs. Petraeus, who "is not exactly pleased right now" after 38 years of marriage, said Steve Boylan, a friend and former Petraeus spokesman who spoke to him over the weekend.

Broadwell, married with two young sons, has not returned phone calls or emails seeking comment.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wedge Politics and Racial Division No Longer Working for Hate Groups Like the American Family Association

African Americans and Latinos Spur Gay Marriage Revolution

from the Washington Post (11/12/12):

Last Tuesday’s election was a watershed moment for the gay marriage movement. Voters in three states voted to legalize it — something no state had done before — and a fourth state voted against a proposed ban.

And if the movement catches on in other states, African Americans and Latinos will be a big reason why.

In fact, exit polls now show a majority of both groups now favor gay marriage.

Maine, Maryland and Washington state all passed new gay marriage laws on Tuesday, while voters in Minnesota defeated a ban.

In some ways, the pro-gay marriage votes were a long time coming, with polls showing more and more Americans moving in support of gay marriage in recent years. But the fact that voters in multiple states signed off on gay marriage all at once on Tuesday suggests a significant leap forward, in addition to the incremental progress.

And while the usual suspects continue to favor gay marriage — young people and non-religious people — exit polls show the most important shifts in support among two key communities: African Americans and Hispanics.

Black voters, in particular, have been slow to embrace gay marriage, even as the vast majority vote Democratic and the rest of the party has embraced gay marriage. On Tuesday, though, they played a major role in passing Maryland’s new gay marriage law.

Maryland is heavily Democratic, which made it a likely candidate to be one of the first states to vote for gay marriage. But the state is also heavily African-American (29 percent) and has a significant Latino population (8 percent), which made passage something less than certain.

When California voted for a gay marriage ban in 2008, 70 percent of African Americans voted for it, and when North Carolina overwhelmingly passed a similar measure earlier this year, many cited the black vote as a big reason. (Shortly after the ban passed in North Carolina, President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage.)

On Tuesday in Maryland, though, 46 percent of African Americans supported gay marriage. And according to national exit polls, 52 percent of both black and Latino voters who turned out Tuesday said they support gay marriage in their states.

(The largest shift came from black women, of which 59 percent now support gay marriage, compared to 42 percent of black men — a huge gender gap.)

That’s a big turnaround from recent years. In 2008 and 2009, a Pew Research Center survey showed just 28 percent of African Americans and 39 percent of Latinos backed gay marriage. And by 2010, support in those communities was rising slower than it was among whites.

The exit polls suggest both groups have now moved in large numbers toward supporting gay marriage. Their shifts may not be bigger than other demographics, but the fact that they are shifting at all (after sticking to their opposition) is what’s really significant here.

And given their affinity for President Obama — 93 percent of African Americans and 71 percent of Latinos voted for the president — it’s not unreasonable to think that his support had an impact.

That said, the other three states (besides Maryland) that voted in favor of gay marriage Tuesday are among the whitest states in the country, with Maine being the whitest and Minnesota being 83 percent white.

That’s not surprising, as support has also increased among many other demographics, including Republicans and older people.

But the fact is that the states that are the most Democratic — and thus the likeliest candidates to pass gay marriage laws — tend to be more diverse (California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, etc.). And if African Americans and Latinos are as onboard with gay marriage as the exit polls suggest, the four states that voted in favor of gay marriage on Tuesday might be the first of many.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Good News: Christian Right Spread Word; Fewer Voters Listened

by Laurie Goodstein for the New York Times:

Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in U.S. politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide — especially on gay issues — has shifted against them.

They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights against same-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot, saw anti-abortion-rights Senate candidates defeated and two states vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

It is not as though they did not put up a fight; they went all out as never before: The Rev. Billy Graham dropped any pretense of nonpartisanship and all but endorsed Mitt Romney for president. Roman Catholic bishops denounced President Barack Obama's policies as a threat to life, religious liberty and the traditional nuclear family. Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition distributed more voter guides in churches and contacted more homes by mail and phone than ever before.

"Millions of American evangelicals are absolutely shocked by not just the presidential election but by the entire avalanche of results that came in," R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., said in an interview. "It's not that our message — we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong — didn't get out. It did get out."

"It's that the entire moral landscape has changed," he said. "An increasingly secularized America understands our positions and has rejected them."

Conservative Christian leaders said that they would intensify their efforts to make their case but were just beginning to discuss how to proceed.

"We're not going away; we just need to recalibrate," said Bob Vander Plaats, president and chief executive of The Family Leader, an evangelical organization in Iowa.

The election results are just one indication of larger trends in American religion that Christian conservatives are still digesting, political analysts say. Americans who have no religious affiliation — pollsters call them the "nones" — are now about one-fifth of the population overall, according to a study released last month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The younger generation is even less religious: About one-third of Americans ages 18-22 say they are either atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular. Americans who are secular are far more likely to vote for liberal candidates and for same-sex marriage. Seventy percent of those who said they had no religion voted for Obama, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research.

"This election signaled the last where a white Christian strategy is workable," said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization based in Washington.

"Barack Obama's coalition was less than 4 in 10 white Christian," Jones said. "He made up for that with not only overwhelming support from the African-American and Latino community, but also with the support of the religiously unaffiliated."

In interviews, conservative Christian leaders pointed to other factors that may have blunted their impact in this election: They were outspent by gay rights advocates in the states where marriage was on the ballot; comments on rape by Senate candidates Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana were ridiculed nationwide and alienated women voters; and they never trusted Romney as a reliably conservative voice on social issues.

However, they acknowledge that they are losing ground. The evangelical share of the population is both declining and graying, studies show. Large churches like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God, which have provided an organizing base for the Christian right, are losing members.

"In the long run, this means that the Republican constituency is going to be shrinking on the religious end as well as the ethnic end," said James L. Guth, a professor of political science at Furman University in Greenville, S.C.

Meanwhile, religious liberals are gradually becoming more visible. Liberal clergy members spoke out in support of same-sex marriage, and one group ran ads praising Obama's health care plan for insuring the poor and the sick.

In a development that highlighted the diversity within the Catholic Church, the "Nuns on the Bus" drove through the Midwest warning that the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, would cut the social safety net.

For the Christian right in this election, fervor and turnout were not the problem, many organizers said in interviews. White evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate — 3 percent more than in 2004, when they helped to propel President George W. Bush to re-election. During the Republican primaries, some commentators said that Romney's Mormon faith would drive away evangelicals, many of whom consider his church a heretical cult.

And yet, in the end, evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Romney — even matching the presidential vote of Mormons: 78 percent for Romney and 21 percent for Obama, according to exit polls by Edison Research.

"We did our job," said Reed, who helped pioneer religious voter mobilization with the Christian Coalition in the 1980s and '90s, and is now founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

He said that his organization outdid itself this year, putting out 30 million voter guides in 117,000 churches, 24 million mailings to voters in battleground states and 26 million phone calls.

"Those voters turned out, and they voted overwhelmingly against Obama," Reed said. "You can't just overperform among voters of faith. There's got to be a strategy for younger voters, unmarried voters, women voters — especially single women — and minorities."

The Christian right should have a natural inroad with Hispanics. The vast majority of Hispanics are evangelical or Catholic, and many of those are religious conservatives opposed to same-sex marriage and abortion. And yet, the pressing issue of immigration trumped religion, and Obama won the Hispanic vote by 44 percentage points.

"Latino Protestants were almost as inclined to vote for Mr. Obama as their Catholic brethren were," said Guth, at Furman, "and that's certainly a big change, and going the wrong direction as far as Republicans are concerned."

The election outcome was also sobering news for Catholic bishops, who this year spoke out on politics more forcefully and more explicitly than ever before, some experts said. The bishops and Catholic conservative groups helped lead the fight against same-sex marriage in the four states where that issue was on the ballot. Nationwide, they undertook a campaign that accused Obama of undermining religious liberty, redoubling their efforts when a provision in the health care overhaul required most employers to provide coverage for contraception.

Despite this, Obama retained the Catholic vote, 50 to 48 percent, according to exit polls, although his support slipped from four years ago. Also, solid majorities of Catholics supported same-sex marriage, said Jones, the pollster.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., who serves on the bishops' domestic policy committee, said that the bishops spoke out on many issues, including immigration and poverty, but got media attention only when they talked about abortion, same-sex marriage and religious liberty. Voters who identify as Catholic but do not attend Mass on Sunday may not have been listening, he said, but Catholics who attend Mass probably "weigh what the church has to say."

"I think good Catholics can be found across the political spectrum," Soto said, "but I do think they wrestle with what the church teaches."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fordham University President Blasts Ann Coulter as "Hateful and Needlessly Provocative"

by Joan Walsh for

I happen to love Fordham University. My daughter got a great education there. As president of the College Democrats, she worked well with College Republicans. I met a whole lot of them when they politely turned out the night she helped bring Howard Dean to campus; the next year, she got to moderate a question-and-answer session – to ensure fairness – when the College Republicans hosted Karl Rove. It felt to me like a lost era of civility and reason as I watched young people from the two parties get along up in the Bronx.

But now the Fordham College Republicans have invited Ann Coulter, who outdoes Karl Rove (barely, these days) in the department of divisiveness and meanness. I had a moment of regretting the mega-dollars I spent on Fordham – even though I know the clubs are free to invite whomever they like, within reason (although this tests reason). Then I saw Fordham President Father Joseph McShane’s terrific reply, which I’m printing in full.

Given the dramatic rightward shift of the Republican Party, I happen to believe that the path back to civility involves civil people not merely smiling and being civil but forcefully calling extremist Republicans out on their cruelty and extremism. Father McShane shows the way. He blasts Coulter’s message as “hateful and needlessly provocative — more heat than light” and says “her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.”

McShane notes that Fordham has been blighted by ugly racial and homophobic incidents in the last few years, and he laments the lack of “maturity” shown by his young campus Republicans in inviting the provocateur Coulter. But he says he trusts the Fordham “community” to model “the power of decency and reason to overcome hatred and prejudice.” Let’s hope that happens. Personally, I hope Coulter reads McShane’s statement, withdraws from the engagement and spends some time reflecting on why she’s filled with so much hate. But I’m a dreamer.

Update: Tonight, the Fordham College Republicans have cancelled Coulter’s appearance.

Here’s McShane’s whole statement, followed by the College Republicans’.

The College Republicans, a student club at Fordham University, has invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus on November 29. The event is funded through student activity fees and is not open to the public nor the media. Student groups are allowed, and encouraged, to invite speakers who represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular, points of view, in keeping with the canons of academic freedom. Accordingly, the University will not block the College Republicans from hosting their speaker of choice on campus.

To say that I am disappointed with the judgment and maturity of the College Republicans, however, would be a tremendous understatement. There are many people who can speak to the conservative point of view with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not among them. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative — more heat than light — and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.

As members of a Jesuit institution, we are called upon to deal with one another with civility and compassion, not to sling mud and impugn the motives of those with whom we disagree or to engage in racial or social stereotyping. In the wake of several bias incidents last spring, I told the University community that I hold out great contempt for anyone who would intentionally inflict pain on another human being because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or creed.

“Disgust” was the word I used to sum up my feelings about those incidents. Hate speech, name-calling, and incivility are completely at odds with the Jesuit ideals that have always guided and animated Fordham.

Still, to prohibit Ms. Coulter from speaking at Fordham would be to do greater violence to the academy, and to the Jesuit tradition of fearless and robust engagement. Preventing Ms. Coulter from speaking would counter one wrong with another. The old saw goes that the answer to bad speech is more speech. This is especially true at a university, and I fully expect our students, faculty, alumni, parents, and staff to voice their opposition, civilly and respectfully, and forcefully.

The College Republicans have unwittingly provided Fordham with a test of its character: do we abandon our ideals in the face of repugnant speech and seek to stifle Ms. Coulter’s (and the student organizers’) opinions, or do we use her appearance as an opportunity to prove that our ideas are better and our faith in the academy — and one another — stronger? We have chosen the latter course, confident in our community and in the power of decency and reason to overcome hatred and prejudice.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President

From the College Republicans:

The College Republicans regret the controversy surrounding our planned lecture featuring Ann Coulter. The size and severity of opposition to this event have caught us by surprise and caused us to question our decision to welcome her to Rose Hill. Looking at the concerns raised about Ms. Coulter, many of them reasonable, we have determined that some of her comments do not represent the ideals of the College Republicans and are inconsistent with both our organization’s mission and the University’s. We regret that we failed to thoroughly research her before announcing; that is our error and we do not excuse ourselves for it. Consistent with our strong disagreement with certain comments by Ms. Coulter, we have chosen to cancel the event and rescind Ms. Coulter’s invitation to speak at Fordham. We made this choice freely before Father McShane’s email was sent out and we became aware of his feelings – had the President simply reached out to us before releasing his statement, he would have learned that the event was being cancelled. We hope the University community will forgive the College Republicans for our error and continue to allow us to serve as its main voice of the sensible, compassionate, and conservative political movement that we strive to be. We fell short of that standard this time, and we offer our sincere apologies.

Ted Conrad, President
Emily Harman, Vice President
Joe Campagna, Treasurer
John Mantia, Secretary


Another Hetero Sex Scandal. Shocking. NOT!

CIA Director Petraeus Quits Over Extramarital Affair

CIA Director David Petraeus resigned his post on Friday, confessing to having shown "extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair." The former Army general rocketed to global prominence as the man in charge of the "surge" in Iraq and later the commander of American forces in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama said Petraeus had led the Central Intelligence Agency "with characteristic intellectual rigor, dedication, and patriotism.

"I am completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission, and I have the utmost confidence in Acting Director Michael Morell and the men and women of the CIA who work every day to keep our nation safe," the president said in a written statement.

"Going forward, my thoughts and prayers are with Dave and Holly Petraeus, who has done so much to help military families through her own work. I wish them the very best at this difficult time," Obama continued.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement that did not specify a reason for Petraeus's departure but praised his colleague extensively.

"From his long, illustrious Army career to his leadership at the helm of CIA, Dave has redefined what it means to serve and sacrifice for one's country," said Clapper.

Petraeus went to work as CIA chief in September 2011 after heading up the war in Afghanistan. He had drawn fire in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya. His departure comes barely a week before he was scheduled to testify about the assault in closed-door sessions with the intelligence committees of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Petraeus' resignation letter, quoted by several news outlets, centered on his personal behavior.

"Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA. After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," he said. "This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation."

Petraeus, 60, has been described as the father of the military's counterinsurgency doctrine. The charismatic officer had been cited as a possible future presidential or vice presidential prospect.

His wife Holly has worked inside the Obama Administration, serving at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

For Religious Conservatives, Election Was A 'Disaster'

But For America, The Election Was A Triumph

Listen to the story on National Public Radio:

Many religious conservatives thought this might be the year of an evangelical comeback, when voters would throw President Obama out because of his support of same-sex marriage and abortion, and his health plan's birth control mandate. It didn't work out that way.

"I think this was an evangelical disaster," says Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Mohler says white evangelicals moved in lockstep: Seventy-nine percent voted for Republican Mitt Romney, the same percentage as voted for President George W. Bush in 2004. He says they boldly telegraphed their concerns about Obama, and "our message was rejected by millions of Americans who went to the polls and voted according to a contrary worldview."

Mohler says there's a danger that evangelicals won't see this larger lesson — that they will say Obama won because of his unique story and personality.

"No, it was far more than that," he says. "Four states dealt with the issue of same-sex marriage and after 31 to 33 straight victories, we've been handed a rather comprehensive set of defeats on the issue of the integrity of marriage."

That, and the legalization of marijuana in some states, are examples of what Mohler calls "a seismic moral shift in the culture."

Others say 2012 revealed another shift.

"The understanding that the evangelical vote is a kingmaking vote, I think, is now dead," says Shaun Casey, a professor at Wesley Theological Seminary and a former Obama adviser. He says evangelicals pulled out all the stops to unseat the president.

"Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association bought full-page ads in newspapers; that made no difference," he says. "Ralph Reed spent tens of millions of dollars getting out the vote in battleground states; that didn't make the difference. And you add all of that up, and it was not enough because of the changing demographics of our country."

"The power of this group to shape elections," says Greg Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, "is limited by its size."

"They do turn out," he says. "A quarter of the electorate described themselves as white evangelicals. It's just that that's not enough to overcome the strong Democratic support of other religious groups."

Smith says Obama won 95 percent of black Protestants, three-quarters of Hispanic Catholics, 7 out of 10 Jewish voters and 70 percent of religiously unaffiliated voters, which is the fastest-growing segment of "religion."

Early on, there were signs that the power of religious conservatives might be waning, says political scientist Mark Rozell at George Mason University. In the primaries, conservative religious leaders kept trying to crown various candidates: Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum — just to avoid the Mormon, Romney, as the party nominee.

"But they ended up with Mitt Romney as the party nominee," he observes, "showcasing that their power wasn't all that great — in part because they didn't have a unifying message nor a figure who could unite them."

Rozell says in their political heyday — in the 1980s and '90s — evangelicals had the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition to mobilize them. They had Pat Robertson and James Dobson to inform and inspire them.

"But today, there really is no single leader or group of leaders who are directing the religious conservative movement," he says. "And so it seems to many to be splintered or directionless."

Mohler at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says evangelicals now need to approach politics in a fundamentally different way. They need to bend a little on issues of lesser importance — for example, supporting candidates who have different ideas about the role of government — but who agree with them on marriage and life issues. And most important, Mohler says, evangelicals need to reach beyond their suburban walls.

"If we do not become the movement of younger Americans and Hispanic Americans and any number of other Americans, then we will just become a retirement community," he says. "And that cannot, that cannot, serve the cause of Christ."

And, as this election shows, minorities are the growth area of both politics and religion.

This Is What Equality Looks Like

The historic moment when supports of marriage equality in Maine learn that Question 1 will pass and equal marriage will become a reality in the state.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

While Venango County Remains Firmly In The Dark, History Is Made In Maine And Maryland

Victory: Voters Legalize Same-Sex Marriage In Maine And Maryland

by Lila Shapiro, Huffington Post:

For the first time in history, voters have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage on the ballot. Gay rights advocates are already celebrating this development as a critical victory and a turning point in the fight for marriage equality.

Since the late '90s, a total of 32 states have held votes on same-sex marriage, and each time, voters have opposed the measure. For opponents of same-sex marriage, this string of victories has been a crucial talking point. As Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, the nation's leading group opposing gay marriage, said in a press release this summer: "The American people know in their heart what marriage is, and they have expressed that in the form of over 70 million votes cast in 32 consecutive state elections to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

But on Tuesday night, voters in Maine and Maryland chose to legalize gay marriage, according to exit polls and early returns. In Minnesota and Washington, the results were not yet clear as of this writing.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that has long advocated for same-sex marriage, spent more than $5 million in support of gay marriage in these states.

“This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people," he said in a press release Tuesday night. "Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage."

Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, another prominent advocacy organization, said in a press release: “Today, a majority in Maine voted in favor of loving and committed same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. Now the commitment gay and lesbian couples have made in life will be respected equally under the law, celebrated before their loved ones, and called what it is: marriage.”

For gay-rights advocates, the Maine vote is particularly heartening. Just three years ago, a popular vote overturned legislation that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

"Securing marriage equality at the ballot box in Maine is especially appreciated the second time around," R. Clark Cooper, head of the Log Cabin Republicans, the largest Republican group that supports same-sex marriage, told The Huffington Post in an email.

Although six states and Washington, D.C. legalized gay marriage before Tuesday night, they did so through the votes of state legislators or court decisions. The new victory undermines the conservative premise that those early wins were merely the result of liberal bias in state legislatures and the courts, and it reflects what recent polls have shown to be a shift in Americans' views on the issue.

“It’s hard to overstate the national significance of this vote,” Solomon said. “For years, our opponents have argued that we could not win a majority vote at the ballot. Today, Maine voters proved them wrong, standing up for the Golden Rule and for freedom for all Mainers.”

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage could not immediately be reached for comment.

Monday, November 5, 2012

American Family Association of Pennsylvania Ignores Heterosexual Sex Crimes In Military

In efforts to oppose the repeal of the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the Venango County-based Hate Group known as the American Family Association of Pennsylvania spent years promoting viciously harmful and deceitful propaganda about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  But this Hate Group never seems to be concerned about the true roots of sexual violence in the military, or society at-large, such as those described here.

Prosecutors Allege 5 Women In Army General's Sex Crimes

from the Associated Press:

FORT BRAGG, N.C. » U.S. Army prosecutors offered the first details of a rare criminal case against a general, alleging in a military hearing today he committed sex crimes against five women including four subordinates and a civilian.

A so-called Article 32 hearing on evidence in the case against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair began today at Fort Bragg, a sprawling post that is home to the 82nd Airborne Division. Officials said it was expected to last at least two days.

Sinclair faces possible courts martial on charges including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, violating orders, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and possessing pornography and alcohol while deployed. He served as deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the division's troops in Afghanistan from July 2010 until he was sent home in May because of the allegations.

The Army had kept details secret until now in the rare criminal case against a high-ranking officer. That is different from other high-profile case where Army prosecutors were quick to release charging documents.

In March, the Army quickly released charge sheets laying out evidence against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of gunning down 17 Afghan civilians during a massacre in southern Afghanistan.

The first Article 32 hearing in Bale's case also began today across the country in Washington at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle.

There have been only two other court-martial cases against Army generals in recent years.

Prosecutors in Sinclair's case alleged at today's hearing that the crimes happened between 2007 and 2012 in places including Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany, as well as Fort Bragg and Fort Hood in Texas.

In one case, prosecutors also said that Sinclair threatened one woman's career, as well as her life and the lives of her relatives, if she told anyone about his actions.

Sinclair's attorney asked for the charges to be thrown out, arguing that prosecutors had read confidential emails between the general and his defense. Defense attorney Lt. Col. Jackie Thompson said this violated his client's rights and asked that new prosecutors be brought in to try the case.

The hearing officer called a recess until early this afternoon to give a legal adviser time to review the documents.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gay Pakistanis, Still in Shadows, Seek Acceptance

A glimpse of life for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Pakistan, not terribly dissimilar from the world 'religious' extremists and local hate groups, such as the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, are trying to maintain in Venango County and throughout Northwesten Pennsylvania ... Though The Tide Is Undeniably Turning In Favor Of Dignity, Respect, Justice And Equality For All!
from The New York Times:

LAHORE, Pakistan — The group meets irregularly in a simple building among a row of shops here that close in the evening. Drapes cover the windows. Sometimes members watch movies or read poetry. Occasionally, they give a party, dance and drink and let off steam.

The group is invitation only, by word of mouth. Members communicate through an e-mail list and are careful not to jeopardize the location of their meetings. One room is reserved for “crisis situations,” when someone may need a place to hide, most often from her own family. This is their safe space — a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pakistanis.

“The gay scene here is very hush-hush,” said Ali, a member who did not want his full name used. “I wish it was a bit more open, but you make do with what you have.”

That is slowly changing as a relative handful of younger gays and lesbians, many educated in the West, seek to foster more acceptance of their sexuality and to carve out an identity, even in a climate of religious conservatism.

Homosexual acts remain illegal in Pakistan, based on laws constructed by the British during colonial rule. No civil rights legislation exists to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.

But the reality is far more complex, more akin to “don’t ask, don’t tell” than a state-sponsored witch hunt. For a long time, the state’s willful blindness has provided space enough for gays and lesbians. They socialize, organize, date and even live together as couples, though discreetly.

One journalist, in his early 40s, has been living as a gay man in Pakistan for almost two decades. “It’s very easy being gay here, to be honest,” he said, though he and several others interviewed did not want their names used for fear of the social and legal repercussions. “You can live without being hassled about it,” he said, “as long as you are not wearing a pink tutu and running down the street carrying a rainbow flag.”

The reason is that while the notion of homosexuality may be taboo, homosocial, and even homosexual, behavior is common enough. Pakistani society is sharply segregated on gender lines, with taboos about extramarital sex that make it almost harder to conduct a secret heterosexual romance than a homosexual one. Displays of affection between men in public, like hugging and holding hands, are common. “A guy can be with a guy anytime, anywhere, and no one will raise an eyebrow,” the journalist said.

For many in his and previous generations, he said, same-sex attraction was not necessarily an issue because it did not involve questions of identity. Many Pakistani men who have sex with men do not think of themselves as gay. Some do it regularly, when they need a break from their wives, they say, and some for money.

But all the examples of homosexual relations — in Sufi poetry, Urdu literature or discreet sexual conduct — occur within the private sphere, said Hina Jilani, a human rights lawyer and activist for women’s and minority rights. Homoeroticism can be expressed but not named.

“The biggest hurdle,” Ms. Jilani said, “is finding the proper context in which to bring this issue out into the open.”

That is what the gay and lesbian support group in Lahore is slowly seeking to do, even if it still meets in what amounts to near secrecy.

The driving force behind the group comes from two women, ages 30 and 33. They are keenly aware of the oddity that two women, partners no less, have become architects of the modern gay scene in Lahore; if gay and bisexual men barely register in the collective societal consciousness of Pakistan, their female counterparts are even less visible.

“The organizing came from my personal experience of extreme isolation, the sense of being alone and different,” the 30-year-old said.

She decided that she needed to find others like her in Pakistan. Eight people, mostly the couple’s friends, attended the first meeting in January 2009.

Two months later, the two women formed an activist group they call O. They asked for its full name not to be published because it is registered as a nongovernmental organization with the government, with its true purpose concealed because of the laws against homosexual acts.

O conducts research into lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, provides legal advice and has helped remove people from difficult family situations, and in one case a foreign-operated prostitution ring. The group has made a conscious decision to focus its efforts on the dynamic of family and building social acceptance and awareness rather than directly tackling legal discrimination.

Their current fight is not to overturn Article 377 of the Pakistan Penal Code, on “Unnatural Offenses,” but to influence parents’ deciding whether or not to shun their gay child. They see this approach as ultimately more productive.

“If you talk about space in Pakistan in terms of milestones that happen in the other parts of the world like pride parades or legal reform or whatever, that’s not going to happen for a long time,” the 33-year-old organizer, who identifies as bisexual, said. “Families making space — that’s what’s important to us right now.” Both women say their families have accepted them, though it was a process.

There are distinct class differences at work here, particularly when it comes to self-definition. Most of those actively involved in fostering the gay and lesbian community in Pakistan, even if they have not been educated abroad, are usually college graduates and are familiar with the evolution of Western thought concerning sexuality. Mostly city-dwellers, they come from families whose parents can afford to send their children to school.

Those who identify themselves as gay here are usually middle and upper middle class, the 33-year-old woman said. “You will get lower middle class or working-class women refusing to call themselves lesbian because that to them is an insult, so they’ll say ‘woman loving woman.’ ”

While the journalist lives relatively openly as a gay man, and says his immediate family accepts it, he understands that older gays have separated sexuality from identity, and he also recognizes that this approach is changing.

Still, he sees the potential for serious conflict for younger Pakistanis who are growing up with a more westernized sense of sexual identity.

“They’ve got all the access to content coming from a Western space, but they don’t have the outlets for expression that exist over there,” he said. “Inevitably they will feel a much greater sense of frustration and express it in ways that my generation wouldn’t have.”

That clash of ideologies was evident last year on June 26, when the American Embassy in Islamabad held its first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride celebration. The display of support for gay rights prompted a backlash, setting off demonstrations in Karachi and Lahore, and protesters clashing with the police outside the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad. This year, the embassy said, it held a similar event but did not issue a news release about it.

“It is the policy of the United States government to support and promote equal rights for all human beings,” an embassy spokeswoman, Rian Harris, said by e-mail when asked about the backlash. “We are committed to standing up for these values around the world, including here in Pakistan.”

Well intended as it may have been, the event was seen by many in Pakistan’s gay community as detrimental to their cause. The 33-year-old activist strongly believes it was a mistake.

“The damage that the U.S. pride event has done is colossal,” she said, “just in terms of creating an atmosphere of fear that was not there before. The public eye is not what we need right now.”

Despite the hostile climate, both the support group and O continue their work. O is currently researching violence against lesbian, bisexual and transgender Pakistanis.

“In a way, we are just role models for each other,” the 30-year-old said. When she was growing up, she said, she did not know anyone who was gay and she could not imagine such a life.

“For me the whole activism is to create that space in which we can imagine a future for ourselves, and not even imagine but live that future,” she said. “And we are living it. I’m living my own impossibility.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

The "Ex-Gay" Myth in The New York Times

‘Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t Be Changed
The New York Times - Nov. 1, 2012

A Response by Wayne Besen, Truth Wins Out:

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed SB 1172 that stops quack therapists from practicing dangerous “ex-gay” techniques on minors. This is great news, considering the American Psychiatric Association says that such practices can lead to “anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior.” Why would any responsible state allow children to be subjected to such child abuse that may lead to suicide?

Now that California has elected to protect kids from quacks, several states are considering passing similar measures in 2013. Stung by the California defeat and worried about their future, the lucrative “ex-gay” industry is launching a PR offensive to stop new laws from being passed in states and even at the federal level. The first shot in this PR war is the launching of the “ex-gay” website Voices of Change which is being promoted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and People Can Change (PCC), an organization with close ties to discredited laughingstock Richard Cohen. This new, website contains a video from NARTH co-founder Dr. Joseph Nicolosi where he claims that half of all his clients are teenagers.

“We are getting more an more teenagers coming to our clinic,” said NARTH’s Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. “Years ago when I did this work, the average age of our clients was late 20′s and early 30′s…Today, I would say that 50-percent of the clients at our clinic, and we have 135 ongoing cases a week. We have seven therapists that only deal with homosexuality. Fifty percent are teenagers.”

If this weren’t disconcerting enough, Cohen’s International Healing Foundation (IHF) has received a huge infusion of cash to target desperate and vulnerable LGBT youth. More than $635,000 was donated to IHF in 2011, with most of the funds allocated for group’s “Special Schools Project.” This appears to be an effort to con school districts into believing that IHF is a pro-gay organization that stands for diversity and is opposed to bullying. However, the group’s dishonest materials cunningly try to steer LGBT youth to “ex-gay” organizations.

Today’s New York Times story written by reporter Erik Eckholm is set in the middle of this ongoing fight. It focuses on the marketing efforts of “ex-gay” activists to try to trick Americans into believing they have gone from gay to straight. Fortunately, it seems that some of the people who commented on the Times’ website today saw through the “ex-gay” charade:

It doesn’t seem like these men are ‘not gay,’ it just seems they are no longer sexually active with other men. If these were the best examples of people ‘cured,’ then the results speak for themselves. Celibacy is not the same thing as heterosexual. – Julia Pappas-Fidicia, New York City

As a Clinical Psychologist who has written on ‘reparative therapy,’ let me offer a suggestion. Those offering reparative therapy should no longer offer it as a therapy of any sort, but instead as a religious ritual or discipline. After all, that’s what L. Ron Hubbard did with Dianetics when he got into trouble offering it as a treatment. He simply turned it into a world religion. Scientology. Let ‘Gay Reparative Therapy’ be the Scientology of Christianity. — Jonathan C. Smith, PhD, Chicago

I feel a great deal of sympathy for these men, who are clearly suffering. I’m sure these treatments are not cheap…They are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous psychologists and ‘therapists.’ – Daisy, Boston

Before we look at this story, I want to share a few thoughts:

First, NARTH — which is the leading “ex-gay” organization — is to the study of sexual orientation what a mood ring is to the science of depression. Ex-Gay practices are a fringe PR gimmick designed to trick a majority of voters into believing that gay people can change so they can rationalize discrimination and justify poor treatment. Here are two very telling quotes that capture the real views of NARTH:

“Homosexuality is a psychological disorder, there is no question about it,” said NARTH co-founder, the late Charles Socarides. “It is a purple menace that is threatening the proper design of gender distinctions in society.” – Weiss, Rick (1997) Psychologists reconsider gay conversion therapy, The Washington Post, Aug. 14

“The most important message we can offer is that there is that there is such thing as a ‘gay child’ or a ‘gay teen.’ We are all designed to be heterosexual. Confusion about gender is primarily a psychological condition, and to some extent, it can be modified.” (p. 16) A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, Joseph and Linda Ames Nicolosi (2002)

In the first quote, Socarides reveals NARTH’s true hostility by calling homosexuality a “purple menace.” Now, I’m not a psychiatrist, but I suspect that the phrase “purple menace” appears nowhere in the literature at top universities where future mental health experts are trained.

In the second quote, Nicolosi uses the phrase “designed to be heterosexuals.” Designed by whom? They are clearly talking about God. Reparative therapy is a discredited practice because of its theological origins masquerading as science. Where genuine science seeks to explore the natural world in hope of discovering answers, reparative therapy is the opposite because it starts with a prepackaged theological answer and gropes for verbiage to justify its preordained conclusion. The prospect for learning and observation are non-existent, since all results have to conclude that homosexuality is a purple menace caused by a mental illness that can be fixed. Clearly, reparative therapy is based on the Scripture Method, not the Scientific Method.

The often desperate and vulnerable clients featured in today’s NYT article are extremely susceptible to swaggering “ex-gay” therapists who appear to have all the answers. For many, if the therapy does not work, they will immediately become outcasts in the religious communities they grew up in. They can lose their family. If they are youth they can become homeless. In other words, there can be enormous incentives for claiming transformation, even when it is not true.

This is exacerbated by name it-and-claim it theology shared by many “ex-gay” ministries. The idea is that if you keep repeating something desirable and have faith in God, He will reward you for your faith. Much “ex-gay” testimony can be attributed to such theology which can be summarized as lying to please the Lord. This tradition is a Catch 22, because if you acknowledge not changing, the minister might say, “of course you aren’t changing, you don’t have enough faith.”

Finally, there is also the issue of conflict of interest or “ex-gay” for pay. Leading NARTH defenders, like David Pickup and James Phelan, have a business model they are defending. Because of clear financial incentives, what they claim about change is essentially meaningless — much like those selling products on late night infomercials. It should be noted that it is difficult to find many “ex-gays” who don’t have a conflict of interest, such as running a therapy outfit or a ministry.

Now, on to the New York Times article. It begins with the story of Blake Smith:

Mr. Smith, 58, who says he believes homosexual behavior is wrong on religious grounds, tried to tough it out. He spent 17 years in a doomed marriage while battling his urges all day, he said, and dreaming about them all night.

But in recent years, as he probed his childhood in counseling and at men’s weekend retreats with names like People Can Change and Journey Into Manhood, “my homosexual feelings have nearly vanished,’ Mr. Smith said in an interview at the house in Bakersfield, Calif., he shares with his second wife, who married him eight years ago knowing his history. “In my 50s, for the first time, I can look at a woman and say ‘she’s really hot.’ ”

I pity Blake and his family. How did it make his wife feel when he was pretending to be attracted to her for 17 years while dreaming about men all night? How does arranging such doomed marriages promote family values? It seems that Blake has wasted the majority of his life in denial, selfishly dragging down women into his self-induced shame hell. He deserves to find true love and physical satisfaction, and so do his two wives, past and present. Had he not been indoctrinated with anti-gay religious dogma, he likely would have been much happier, whole, and not viewed his sexuality as a cosmic battle between good and evil. Blake does not represent success, but the neurotic mess that homophobia can make of one’s life. Instead of liberating Blake, he’s in his 50′s still deluding himself at the expense of his family. I’ve seen this story before — where men finally come out in their 60′s and 70′s and ask, “where did my life go?”

I’m going to be blunt: I don’t believe that Blake finds women hot. When it comes to wild claims of creating a heterosexual attraction for homosexuals, “ex-gay” organizations have no credibility and shouldn’t be taken seriously. How many “ex-gay” posterboys have they put forward only to be revealed as frauds? Given the number of high level failures, one would have to be naive to take their tales of change at face value.

The story continues, pointing out two recent disasters for the “ex-gay” myth:

Reparative therapy suffered two other major setbacks this year. In April, a prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, publicly repudiated as invalid his own 2001 study suggesting that some people could change their sexual orientation; the study had been widely cited by defenders of the therapy.

Then this summer, the ex-gay world was convulsed when Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, the largest Christian ministry for people fighting same-sex attraction, said he did not believe anyone could be rid of homosexual desires

I’m a big proponent of using physical measures to test whether such people have gone from gay to straight. (No Lie MRI, polygraph, penile plethysmography). Relying on the tale of an “ex-gay” who often has a financial incentive or is under immense social pressure or religious duress to claim success is a waste of time. Since physical tests exist, why doesn’t NARTH use them? Is Blake willing to take one? If not, what is he hiding?

On the topic of genuine “change,” here is a revealing quote from former Brazilian “ex-gay” poster boy Sergio Viula:

“In fact, ex-gays don’t exist – it’s pure self-suggestion…What we ex-gay purveyors did was an act of violence against ourselves, as we had internalized the homophobia that surrounded us from early childhood, as well as against the others, because we reproduced that very homophobia which they had internalized by themselves long before. We just reinforced it even more.”

Next, the article states:

Mr. Smith is one of thousands of men across the country, often known as “ex-gay,” who believe they have changed their most basic sexual desires through some combination of therapy and prayer — something most scientists say has never been proved possible and is likely an illusion.

The New York Times article actually refutes the “ex-gay” claim that there are thousands of such folks by the people interviewed:

Aaron Bitzer, 35, was so angered by the California ban, which will take effect on Jan. 1, that he went public and became a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional.

To those who call the therapy dangerous, Mr. Bitzer reverses the argument: “If I’d known about these therapies as a teen I could have avoided a lot of depression, self-hatred and suicidal thoughts,” he said at his apartment in Los Angeles. He was tormented as a Christian teenager by his homosexual attractions, but now, after men’s retreats and an online course of reparative therapy, he says he feels glimmers of attraction for women and is thinking about dating.

“I found that I couldn’t just say ‘I’m gay’ and live that way,” said Mr. Bitzer, who plans to seek a doctorate in psychology and become a therapist himself.

So the posterboy for success that the “ex-gay” industry provides America’s most prestigious newspaper says he feels “glimmers of attraction for women?” If this is the best they can do, it proves the entire “ex-gay” schtick is a public relations campaign, not genuine therapy that produces actual results. For all the boasting, bluster, and bravado, the “ex-gay” industry has virtually no success stories to highlight. For example, when Dr. Robert Spitzer asked NARTH’s Dr. Joseph Nicolosi for subjects to participate in his 2001 study on whether people could go from gay to straight, Nicolosi failed to deliver his allegedly “changed” homosexuals. In a video TWO filmed this year with Spitzer, the psychiatrist claimed:

He [Nicolosi] just didn’t have many patients who could really claim that they had changed.

With a lack of real success stories from actual clients, the “ex-gay” industry is forced to make the preposterous claim that “ex-gays” are invisible because they are afraid to come out of the closet, fearing that people like me might be mean to them. According to the Times story:

Ex-gay men are often closeted, fearing ridicule from gay advocates who accuse them of self-deception and, at the same time, fearing rejection by their church communities as tainted oddities…Many ex-gays guard their secret but quietly meet in support groups around the country, sharing ideas on how to avoid temptations or, perhaps, broach their past with a female date.

Here are a few facts:

The figures show that homosexuals are 2.4 times more likely to suffer a violent hate crime attack than Jews. Gays are 2.6 times more likely to be attacked than blacks; 4.4 times more likely than Muslims; 13.8 times more likely than Latinos; and 41.5 times more likely than whites, according to the FBI figures. Homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crimes.

Clearly, the consequences of coming out as a gay person can be very real, while there is zero evidence to show that coming out as heterosexual (which is what ex-gays presumably are) is dangerous. Despite the ominous figures, millions of gay people have still managed to come out, even in conservative or rural areas. My spouse came out in a Nebraska town of 700 people. Yet, somehow we are supposed to believe that so-called “ex-gays,” with no evidence that they are victims of hate crimes, are cowed into hiding? Such whining defies logic and is simply the irrational bleating and excuse making of “ex-gay” groups who can’t produce success stories to back their unsubstantiated claims.

Interestingly, the LGBT movement has no trouble showing survivors of such psychological abuse and there are even support groups, like Beyond Ex-Gay.

In short, the “ex-gay” industry is posing as victims when they are actually the victimizers. They are about enforcing rigid gender norms, restrictive stereotypes, and portraying homosexuality in the worst possible light. Far from open minded, the only acceptable outcome for clients in such intolerant programs is heterosexuality. Anyone who comes to a different conclusion is ostracized and stigmatized. It is most amusing that the “ex-gay” industry has recently adopted the liberal arguments of choice, exploration, and self-determination, when in reality these alleged choices are a mirage. What they really offer is heterosexuality or the highway. Who are they kidding?

The truth is, “ex-gay” abuse is about shame and blame. Virtually no one over the age of thirty felt comfortable growing up gay. Even in today’s more accepting society, there are large swaths of America where coming out can mean social death, rejection, and even violence. However, that has nothing to do with one’s homosexuality, but the way people react to it. Reparative therapy adds to the stigma, reinforces a client’s shame, and confuses stereotypes with science. Had the the people featured in this story been brought up in a more accepting environment, then they would have been more comfortable as gay. Homosexuality, like heterosexuality, consists of sexual arousal and feelings of love — two beautiful elements that make life meaningful. The only way it is possible that homosexuality can make one unhappy is if it is portrayed as bad and leads to adverse social consequences. (which is why “ex-gay” groups are in favor of anti-gay laws) The idea that homosexuality on its own can lead to unhappiness is a bizarre and incoherent notion rooted in bias.

What we do know is that acceptance of LGBT youth makes a huge difference on whether they succeed or fail:

San Francisco State researcher Caitlin Ryan found that LGBT teens who experienced negative feedback from their families were 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times as vulnerable to severe depression, and 3 times at risk for drug abuse. (Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Jan 2009)

Science is also beginning to show that because of social pressure, there are those who claim to be heterosexual — even homophobic — who are actually gay. Reparative therapy is just another variation of the conditions that strongly encourage false reporting. (We know at least two clients of Nicolosi who were asked to participate in Robert Spitzer’s study who were not transformed, which shows the strong degree of coercion used by the reparative therapy industry)

It is important to note that reparative therapy can temporarily make perfect sense intellectually to a lot of people who fit NARTH’s prefabricated model of what causes homosexuality. If one comes from a home with a distant same-sex parent or was sexually abused, or picked last on sports teams, their paradigm seems to explain everything in a neat and tidy manner. Except it really explains nothing at all and there is no evidence that such family dynamics cause homosexuality any more than an affinity for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or the enjoyment of Hula Hoops. NARTH’s family model can also describe the experiences of countless heterosexuals. It also conveniently ignores the fact that a great number of LGBT people grew up in loving homes where they were close to both parents. For example, I’m very close to my parents who have been married for 43 years. I was never sexually violated. I grew up bowling, fishing, and playing football. I was the captain of my high school basketball team, MVP, and second team All-City in 1988. When I hear the theories of reparative therapists, I think they are bizarre and have little to do with reality. But, that’s easy for me to conclude, given my background. It’s not so easy for those to figure out who fit neatly into NARTH’s fabricated paradigm and are more easily exploited.

In terms of “ex-gay” industry opening up old wounds by discussing family dynamics, this can be terribly problematic. Unless the counselor is qualified (and many “ex-gay” counselors are not), such unwise actions can cause additional trauma to clients. This is one more reason that LGBT youth should never be subjected to the abuse of such charlatans.

I will also note that initially going to “ex-gay” therapy does bring a sense of relief for some clients. A good portion of them are deeply closeted and have had very little contact with openly gay individuals. Suddenly, they went from complete secrecy, loneliness, and silence, to having their sexual orientation out in the open — even if it is in a dysfunctional faux therapeutic setting. Whether one comes out as gay or “ex-gay” it is still a form of coming out and does bring a sense of peace. However, the same effect can be accomplished in a supportive setting and the glow eventually wears off “ex-gay” counseling when it fails to deliver on its false promise.

One defense for such therapy is this: “I don’t claim this is possible for everyone, but it works for me. What’s wrong with that?”

This is an old huckster technique used to bamboozle gullible people into buying snake oil. The idea is to use personal testimony to claim a product works knowing that such tales are difficult to refute. If one watches late night TV, countless infomercials — from weight loss products to face cream to muscle building formulas — make outrageous claims using personal testimony. The other appealing aspect is that when the product inevitably doesn’t work, the exploited customer can be blamed for not achieving the promised results. Reparative therapy is a con that uses the same tried and true methods of other swindlers. Of course, when it comes to “ex-gay” abuse, when the miracle or change doesn’t come, it can lead to depression or worse, as the victim can’t understand why they are failing. Often, they believe that they were abandoned by God, greatly exacerbating feelings of depression and low self-esteem.

Additionally, no one cares what an adult individual does in his or her private life. The problem arises when so-called “ex-gays” are paraded by political groups on national television and used to testify in an effort to pass anti-gay laws. For example, I started Truth Wins Out in 2006 after George W. Bush invited Exodus’ Alan Chambers to the White House to promote the Federal Marriage Amendment. The “ex-gay” issue only gained traction in 1998 when 16 anti-gay organizations launched the “Truth in Love” campaign with a full-page ad in the New York Times. Indeed, the “ex-gay” issue has never been about changing one’s sexual orientation, but using the idea of change to pass anti-gay laws. “Ex-Gay” activist Greg Quinlan, President of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) is currently working to overturn a marriage equality in Maryland.

It is also worth mentioning that there is a growing body of science is beginning to show that sexual orientation has biological origins. In many cases, the brains of gay and straight people are subtly different. Anyone or group that makes a blanket statement that sexual orientation is caused by rape or poor parenting doesn’t have a very strong grasp of science, they are not informed on the latest research, or they are deliberately twisting the science for political gain. When groups like NARTH and PFOX makes such statements it reveals a level of ignorance so great that it virtually disqualifies them from even being in the room where serious scientific discussions occur.

I’ll end by featuring the testimony of Cameron Michael Swaim in today’s Times story:

Cameron Michael Swaim, 20, said he is in the early stages of his struggle to overcome homosexual desires. Mr. Swaim is unemployed and lives with his parents in Orange County, Calif., where his father is a pastor of the Evangelical Friends Church of the Southwest.

He tried the gay life, but “it just doesn’t settle with me,” he said, and ultimately decided “there’s got to be a way to heal this affliction.”

Through weekend retreats and participation in a Southern California support group Mr. Swaim has started to explore his family relations, he said, something that has been painful but seems to be helping.

“I’m building my confidence around men,” he said, “ and that has built my confidence around women.”

Five years from now, Mr. Swaim hopes, he will be engaged or married. In the meantime, he is trying to scrape together enough money to start seeing a reparative therapist.

It is a shame that Swaim had the misfortune of being born into a home where he was taught to despise his most intimate feelings and human needs. Had be been born into a better home — one that would have been accepting rather than rejecting — he would not be suffering though the obvious trauma he now endures. It is heartbreaking that he plans to drag a woman into his mess — a woman who surely deserves better than to live his lie. When this future marriage finally falls apart, I urge his ex-wife to contact the Straight Spouse Network. This is a support group for women and men who were often used as props and beards in the destructive game played by the “ex-gay” industry. There is also the book, Straight Wives, Shattered Lives by Bonnie Kaye.

Reparative therapy by nature is coercive. It takes vulnerable people and tries to scare the heck out of them. For example, this comes from pg. 16 of the Nicolosi book, “Preventing Homosexuality“:

There are life threatening health risks associated with the gay lifestyle

A gay lifestyle adjustment will be difficult and socially controversial

Dr. Nicolosi has also told clients: “I do not believe that any man can ever be truly at peace in living out a homosexual orientation.”

Make no mistake, the gross distortions “ex-gay” therapists promulgate about gay life are the key reason people, such as those featured today in the Times, want to change. The charlatans offering help are the ones causing the harm.

The sooner such wanton child abuse can be stopped, the better.

About the Author: Wayne Besen is the Founding Executive Director of Truth Wins Out and author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth” (Haworth, 2003). In 2010, Besen was awarded the “Visionary Award” at the Out Music Awards for organizing the American Prayer Hour, an event which shined a spotlight on the role American evangelicals played in the introduction of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.