Member of Homophobic
'Promise Keepers' Group

Rep. Ensign Decries
Gay Personal Ad Hoax
by Woody Johnson
from wire reports

July 17, 1998

Reno, Nevada -- Rep. John Ensign accused Democrats of dirty tricks after someone tried to place a personals ad suggesting Ensign sought a relationship with another man. Ensign is running for the seat held by Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat.

The ad, sent to the Reno News and Review, a free weekly alternative newspaper, may have been faxed from the Nevada Democratic Party's Reno office. The fax bore the party's name and phone number.

The ad, submitted for the "Men Seeking Men" section, read: "Vegas politician seeks Republican man for companionship while campaigning in Reno. Must be interested in animals, canoe rides on Lake Tahoe, and possibly living in Washington. Being a promise keeper would be a plus." A newspaper staffer realized it was a prank before the ad was run.

Democratic officials are investigating to see who sent it, and apologized to the congressman, who belongs to the Christian men's group Promise Keepers.

Nevada Democratic Party chairman Paul Henry said, "To the extent it's our fault, I take full responsibility for it and apologize to the congressman," he said.

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War is Okay
Dignity is Not
Go Figure

School Gay Pride
Display Removed

June 7, 1998

Danville, California (AP) -- A display commemorating Gay Pride Month was removed by high school administrators after it provoked controversy, a move that dismayed the students who created it.

The display devised by the San Ramon Valley High School's Diversity Club was put up Monday and was gone by Friday. Club members had believed it would stay up through the end of the school year.

"All of the other displays were up a lot longer," said Meganne Furey, 15, who was one of its designers.

Principal David Lorden could not be reached for comment Sunday, but was quoted in earlier published reports that the display's removal on Friday was routine.

Mounted along a wall in a glass case, the display included a Gay Pride Month sign, a rainbow flag, a pink triangle, and a list of gay people who have made significant contributions to society.

One faculty member said he was surprised the display lasted as long as it did.

"Some kids spat on it. Some kids started yelling obscenities about gays," the faculty member told the San Francisco Examiner. "... But by Friday, kids were walking by it and barely pausing. It seemed that the fire generated wasn't sustained."

"By the third day, no one really cared," said Furey, who was surprised by what she said was excessive haste in removing the display.

An adjoining display dealing with World War II was not removed.

During the week, one student circulated a petition demanding it be taken down, and made "Straight Pride" shirts, which several students were seen wearing, Furey said.

The front of the shirts said "I'm Proud to be Straight."

Other adverse reaction prompted the administration to post security personnel near the display

Lorden told the Contra Costa Times that the display "brought up some definite opposing views on the issue. I think some people have some real strong feelings for and against this.... It surprised me."

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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Church Trial Found
Pastor Innocent

Angry Methodists Leave
After Lesbian Marriage
by John Fulwider
Associated Press Writer

June 18, 1998

Boys Town, Nebraska (AP) -- A group of Methodists who left their church after their pastor performed a controversial lesbian unity ceremony are forming their own congregation.

Gays and lesbians will be welcome, but the ordination or marriage of homosexuals will not.

''We welcome any and all,'' said Mel Semrad, the spokesman for the 175 United Methodists who voted unanimously Wednesday night to form a new congregation. They had considered rejoining Omaha's First United Methodist Church, which as many as 450 parishioners have boycotted for three months.

The Rev. Donald Bredthauer, newly appointed senior pastor at First United Methodist, would not comment.

The Rev. Jimmy Creech, the minister who started the controversy by performing the ceremony, has returned to North Carolina, where he lived before his Omaha assignment. But Semrad said the dissident group thought that First United Methodist under Bredthauer would continue with the same beliefs about homosexuality that drove them away.

Methodists nationwide have been divided over homosexuality, an issue thrust into the spotlight when Creech conducted the ceremony last September. A church trial jury in March found him innocent of violating Methodist law.

But his willingness to conduct similar ceremonies led in part to Nebraska Bishop Joel Martinez's decision to not renew Creech's appointment to the church.

Martinez was out of the state and unavailable for comment Wednesday.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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Airplane Banner Flown

Operation Rescue Evangelists
Protest Disney Gay Day
by Mike Schneider
Associated Press Writer

June 6, 1998

Lake Buena Vista, Florida (AP) -- A group of Operation Rescue evangelists wearing red, white and blue "Pro-Life" shirts cut a path through a sea of red-shirted gays and lesbians Saturday inside Disney World's Magic Kingdom for Gay Day.

A dozen Disney workers, security guards and undercover sheriff's deputies discreetly tailed the Bible-carrying group of two adults and two teen-agers as it strolled through the park and later met up with a second group of Operation Rescue members at Cinderella's Castle.

The evangelists risked getting thrown out of the theme park if they violated Disney rules by passing out literature or talking to any patrons against their wishes.

But Disney officials, who neither sponsor nor endorse Gay Day, need not have worried.

There were no arrests, and no one was kicked out.

Operation Rescue had promised to cap a week of protests at area abortion clinics and Barnes & Noble bookstores by preaching to gays and lesbians inside Disney's gates.

But visitors were more likely to encounter protesters heading into Disney World.

About 100 protesters gathered along the highway, carrying signs that read "Choose Jesus Over Mickey" and "Mickey Come Home!"

An airplane circled above the Magic Kingdom with a banner that read, "Jesus Can Save You From Your Lifestyle."

"Walt had a high moral character. He created themes for families. Only God can redefine families," Operation Rescue leader Rusty Thomas said.

Nearby, a group of 20 counterprotesters led by gay activist Bob Kunst carried a rainbow flag and pickets calling attention to places that discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Since Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom started eight years ago, gays and lesbians have worn red shirts to identify themselves at the theme park.

An estimated 100,000 people were in Orlando for the weekend festivities. Disney officials wouldn't say how many people were in Magic Kingdom, although unlike past Gay Days it didn't fill to capacity, said spokesman Bill Warren.

On Saturday, the park was flooded with men and women in red shirts and members of the same sex hugging, kissing and holding hands.

Although Disney doesn't warn its guests about Gay Day, which is held in the Magic Kingdom during the first weekend in June, they do allow upset guests to exchange their passes for other parks.

Many families were nonplussed at what they saw.

Jerry Leeker of St. Louis watched with his sons, Brendan, 9, and Zack, 6, as a group of men in red shirts with multicolored lettering lined up to spell "We're Here," and after switching a couple of letters, "We're Queer."

"Different strokes for different folks," Leeker said.

The evangelists who set out to preach inside the park hardly spoke to anyone at first. After about an hour, they settled on a target: a young, gay couple in red shirts near Cinderella's Golden Carousel.

Evangelists David Lackey of Birmingham, Ala., and Bill Shanks of New Orleans opened the conversation with David Smith and Robert Pitman by asking where they were from.

The gay couple from Austin, Texas, were more than a match for the evangelists. Smith, a 33-year-old Methodist seminary graduate, and Pitman, who comes from a fundamentalist Christian family, knew the Bible backward and forward.

"There are definitely different interpretations of the verses that supposedly condemn homosexuality," Smith told Lackey.

As Disney security workers and a handful of reporters looked on, the evangelists and the gay couple had a half-hour conversation that was cordial, polite and diplomatic.

"The statistics show that your lifestyle is much shorter than other people's," Lackey said. "It's not a lifestyle. It's a death-style."

"My lifestyle is exactly like yours," Smith countered. "I wake up, I pick up my paper, I say 'hi' to my neighbor, I feed the dogs, I go to work ... The only thing different is that I share a bed with a man, and I love a man."

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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Baptists Want
Gay Order Nullified
by Kristen Moulton
Associated Press Writer

June 11, 1998

Salt Lake City (AP) -- The Southern Baptists voted Thursday to ask Congress to nullify President Clinton's order prohibiting discrimination against civilian federal employees because of their sexual orientation.

Delegates at the denomination's annual convention rejected by 1,071 votes to 1,005 an amendment that would have asked Clinton's own Southern Baptist congregation to consider disciplining him unless the president rescinds his May 28 executive order.

Clinton's executive order added homosexuals to the list of groups protected from discrimination.

"Homosexual politics is masquerading today as civil rights, in order to exploit the moral high ground of the civil rights movement," said the resolution, which passed overwhelmingly.

"Homosexuality is immoral, contrary to the Bible and contrary to traditional Judeo-Christian moral standards, and the open affirmation of homosexuality represents a sign of God's surrendering a society to its perversion."

The resolution said government should not give special legal protection and endorsement to homosexuality, nor should it impose legal sanctions against those who believe homosexual conduct immoral.

In signing his executive order, Clinton said: "Individuals should not be denied a job on the basis of something that has no relationship to their ability to perform their work."

The defeated amendment was proposed by the Rev. Wiley Drake of Buena Park, Calif., who said he was "sick and tired" of explaining to prostitutes and other sinners how Clinton can remain a Southern Baptist.

"I think we need to go on record that President Clinton should be dealt with by his church," Drake said.

Clinton's home church is Immanuel Baptist church in Little Rock, Ark.

Herb Hollinger, vice president in the church's executive committee, said it would have been extremely unusual for the denomination to suggest that a local church discipline a member.

"I've never heard of it. It would be anti-Southern Baptist," he said.

Each local Southern Baptist church is autonomous.

It was Drake who proposed an amendment on Wednesday that would have cited Clinton by name in a resolution affirming that immoral behavior by public officials should not be excused. The resolution passed overwhelmingly; Drake's amendment was defeated.

Drake also was behind a resolution last year to boycott Disney for extending health insurance benefits to homosexual partners of employees and for welcoming gay groups at its amusement parks.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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Christian Groups Buy
Anti-Gay Advertisement
by Joseph Schuman
Associated Press Writer
(edited by Cliff Walker from two Schuman stories to include all information)

July 16, 1998

Washington (AP) -- Religious conservatives, in a campaign backing the remarks of some Republican lawmakers, are sponsoring a series of national newspaper ads urging gays and lesbians to leave their homosexuality and "let the real healing begin."

The ads, placed this week in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today, have angered both gay rights groups, who say they promote discrimination, and medical researchers, who say homosexuality is neither a condition nor a disorder that requires healing.

The ads "fly in the face of scientific fact and are at odds with what we know from biological and psychological science," said Dean Hamer, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health.

"Their motivation is one of prejudice rather than trying to be helpful to anybody," Hamer said.

The ads, sponsored by such groups as the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council, cite "thousands of ex-gays" as proof gays and lesbians are capable of "leaving their homosexual identity for sexual celibacy, and even marriage."

Recounting the tale of a "former lesbian," the ads describe homosexuals as unhappy, self-destructive people who are committing "sexual sin."

They also praise Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and football player Reggie White, who have denounced homosexuality as a sin, for speaking "the truth" in the face of criticism. Lott was recently slammed by gay rights groups, many Democrats and even members of his own party for comparing homosexuality to alcoholism and kleptomania.

Other congressional Republicans have made similar remarks, and Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., has proposed a measure that would block President Clinton's order barring job discrimination against homosexual federal workers.

Janet Folger, national director of the Center for Reclaiming America and the coordinator of the ads, said they had no political purpose, and their aim was to thank Lott, White and others and to protect what she said was their right to free speech.

"If you look to see what has happened to virtually everyone who has spoken up in public on this issue, they have been shouted down, name-called, treated with hostility that would not be tolerated" if it was aimed at homosexuals, Folger said.

"There's an anti-Christian bigotry trying to silence those who disagree," she said. "It's a far cry from tolerance."

The ads were bought at a time when Republican leaders have come under increased pressure from conservatives like Christian broadcaster James Dobson, the Family Research Council's Gary Bauer and others to adhere to the so-called family values of their core constituency.

Republicans hold a narrow majority in the House and cannot afford to have conservatives -- their most active voters -- stay away from the polls in the elections this fall.

Elizabeth Birch, director of Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, accused religious conservatives of timing the ads to raise funds before the elections.

"The extreme right has been very effective in using anti-gay rhetoric for years as a cash cow," Birch said.

The ads, she said, "are filled with pseudo-science and out-and-out lies. Gay people are just as likely to be happy as the population as a whole."

The American Psychiatric Association does not consider homosexuality a disorder and said in its fact sheet on the issue that there is no published scientific evidence supporting attempts to change a person from a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation.

"The major effect (of such ads) has to do with stigmatizing a group of people and also implying that it's an illness when it isn't," said Edward Hanin, chairman of the association's council on national affairs.

Folger said the fact that the thousands of people cited in the ads did in fact change counts as scientific proof.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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Contractor Gets 50 Calls

Chriaitan Anti-Gay Ad Lists
Wrong Phone Number

July 14, 1998

Washington (AP) -- Oops. Wrong number. A full-page ad in The New York Times by a group that advocates overcoming homosexuality through prayer had the phones ringing off the hook Monday at the offices of an Alabama electrical contractor.

"It's strange for Dothan, Alabama, to be involved in this kind of thing," said Byron Griffin, a company vice president. "We're not as liberal here as they are in New York City."

Callers were responding to a newspaper ad featuring a woman who says she's a former lesbian who through faith in God and prayer became a loving wife and mother.

But because of an error by the organization sponsoring the ad, Exodus International, the wrong phone number was printed in the Times.

"A lot of them had an attitude," Griffin said of the 40 or 50 callers who responded to the ad.

Bob Davies, the head of the Seattle-based Exodus, said he telephoned Griffin and apologized when he learned of the mistake.

The ad, paid for by a coalition of conservative and Christian-right groups, shows the photo of the woman, Anne Paulk, and tells her story.

"Recently, several prominent people like (Senate Majority Leader) Trent Lott, Reggie White and Angie and Debbie Winans have spoken out on homosexuality ... calling it a sin," says the ad. "When I was living as a lesbian I didn't like hearing words like that."

Davies said Exodus had budgeted $200,000 for the campaign. Similar ads, with the correct telephone number, were planned for other newspapers this week.

Sponsors of the ad included the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

Davies describes Exodus as an umbrella group for organizations that "help men and women deal with homosexuality in a Christian way."

Elizabeth Birch, spokeswoman for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian advocacy group, said her organization would respond with its own newspaper ad later in the week.

"Nobody wants to denigrate this woman's story, but the fact is, it doesn't reflect the vast majority of experiences of gay people in America," she said. "It also perpetuates the myth that gay people are not people of faith."

© Copyright 1998, Associated Press

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