10 Anti-Gay Myths Debunked

Graphic which reads '10 MYTHS'"Ever since born-again singer and orange juice pitchwoman Anita Bryant helped kick off the contemporary anti-gay movement more than 30 years ago, hard-line elements of the religious right have been searching for ways to demonize homosexuals — or, at a minimum, to find arguments that will prevent their normalization in society. For the former Florida beauty queen and her Save Our Children group, it was the alleged plans of gays and lesbians to "recruit" in schools that provided the fodder for their crusade. But in addition to hawking that myth, the legions of anti-gay activists who followed have added a panoply of others, ranging from the extremely doubtful claim that homosexuality is a choice, to unalloyed lies like the claims that gays molest children far more than heterosexuals or that hate crime laws will lead to the legalization of bestiality and necrophilia. These fairy tales are important to the anti-gay right because they form the basis of its claim that homosexuality is a social evil that must be suppressed — an opinion rejected by virtually all relevant medical and scientific authorities. They also almost certainly contribute to hate crime violence directed at homosexuals, who are more targeted for such attacks than any other minority in America. What follows are 10 key myths propagated by the anti-gay movement, along with the truth behind the propaganda."

Read the article by Southern Poverty Law Center

Soulforce Annual Report 2009 – 2010 Released

Cover of the 2009 - 2010 Soulforce annual review. Features the title of the report in the center with photographs from various actions above and belowThe Soulforce Annual Report for 2009 – 2010 is now available. You can download the report here: 2009 – 2010 Soulforce Annual Report

The report is in PDF format. If you need a program to open the document, Adobe Acrobat Reader is available for free. Please contact webmaster@soulforce.org if you have any issues downloading or opening the report.

Asher named one of The Advocate’s Forty Under 40

AsherAsher has been named one of the Advocate’s "40 under 40!"  His story is on page 6 on the link below.  It’s also, of course, in the current print issue if you have that available.

Congratulations, Asher!

http://advocate.com/Print_Issue/Cover_Stories/Forty_Under_40/

Soulforce Launches Search for New Executive Director

Soulforce continues the exciting process of recruiting and hiring our new permanent Executive Director!  First a search committee was established from a broad group of former board members, esteemed religious leaders, current board members and staff – and what a powerful group of individuals they are!

Next, the services of a professional search and recruiting firm were sought out to assure that our Executive Director search was thorough and reached out to every constituency possible. We’re excited to be working with Joe McCormack and Kevin Chase of McCormack & Associates, a 15 year old national provider of specialized executive search services, and among the first national search firms to specialize in diversity recruiting!

Now we are excited to present the Recruitment Profile which is intended to provide detailed information about the Soulforce Executive Director position and the candidates that we are seeking. Please feel free to pass this information along to anyone who you believe would be interested in applying for the E.D. position. Information is included about how to contact McCormack & Associates in regard to this position.

The Board and Staff, and all of Soulforce, invite your ongoing support as we walk down this exciting new path in our work to end the religion-based and political oppression of LGBTQ people and to create a world where all are welcome and all are powerful and all are able to fully blossom as the special gifts that each of us are!

To view the Executive Director Recruitment Profile, click here.

Soulforce Recognizes Service of Jeff Lutes

Soulforce Board Chair Chuck Phelan and Interim Executive Director Bill Carpenter presented retired Executive Director Jeff Lutes with a recognition award on January 10 at Metropolitan Community Church-Austin, where Jeff is a member. The award recognized Jeff’s leadership over the past four years and his program achievements, including:

  • Nonviolent Direct Actions at Focus on the Family, 2005 and 2006.
  • The Ex-Gay Survivors Conference, 2007.
  • Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights, 2007 and 2008.
  • The American Family Outing, 2008.
  • The Anti-Heterosexism Conference, 2009
  • Writing “What the Science Says-And Doesn’t Say-About Homosexuality”
  • Helping birth Soulforce Q and their first three Equality Rides

Chuck also pointed out that "behind every great man in our community is a great man" and recognized Jeff’s husband, Gary Stein, and their three children, who were also in attendance. The presentation took place during the training for the 2010 Equality Riders and Soulforce staffers Andi Gentile, Caitlin MacIntyre, and a number of Equality Riders were present as Jeff was honored.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Soulforce Executive Director Search

Soulforce, Inc. is an 11-year old national civil rights organization. Our mission is to end religionbased discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people. Our method is persistent, non-violent resistance, with a commitment to the strategies and principles employed by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. (for more details please visit our web site at: www.soulforce.org)

Our core values are strong and we are welcoming to people of all colors, faiths, orientations and identities. The organization has just completed a process of identifying its Strategic Plan Objectives. Programs implementing the objectives are underway. The most prominent of which is the Equality Ride, led by a strong group of young adult staff members. The ride will take off for the fourth time in March 2010.

The organization was founded by the Rev. Dr. Mel White in 1998. The organization grew under his leadership until 2006, when Mel retired from fulltime leadership and moved into a role as “founder”. A new, part-time Executive Director position was approved. Jeff Lutes was hired for that role and served Soulforce well for nearly four years. In June 2009 the Board of Directors authorized the Executive Director position to expand to full time. Jeff has stepped back to have more time to pursue his private counseling practice and to spend more time with his family. In the interim, Bill Carpenter, the Soulforce Director of National Actions, has agreed to lead the organization. Bill remains heavily involved in the Equality Ride as well.

The Interim Executive Director will serve until May 2010. The full-time Executive Director position will be officially posted and applications accepted by the Board of Directors on the schedule shown below. Please watch for more details and share this announcement with people who may have a sincere interest in serving as Soulforce’s Executive Director.

ANTICIPATED SCHEDULE:

  • Formal request for submission of Executive Director Applications will be posted January 2010
  • Applications will be accepted through mid-February 2010
  • Reviews, interviews, vetting and selection throughout March 2010
  • New Executive Director to begin April 15, 2010

McCormack & Associates, well-known diversity search consultants, have been selected to manage the recruitment process for the new Soulforce Executive Director. McCormack is the nation’s first gay-owned retained search practice, and is a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. The firm is based in Los Angeles, California. Since 1993, McCormack has filled over 200 CEO, COO and board level searches for LGBT, HIV/AIDS, health care, education and social justice organizations nationally. The firm was named one of the Top 50 executive recruiting firms by independent industry publication Executive Recruiter News.

All correspondence about this position should be addressed to search@mccormackassociates.com.

 


Soulforce is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law.

2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference Deemed Ground-Breaking

The 2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference, held November 20-22, 2009 in West Palm Beach, Florida, was deemed a huge success according to the evaluations of those in attendance. On November 22, 2009, Ex-Gay Survivors from all over the world came together to share their stories and discuss ways in which they can continue to warn others about the harm caused by heterosexism, reparative therapy and ex-gay ministries. A press conference facilitated by Jeff Lutes on Friday was covered by a local television channel and the report ended with survivor Daniel Gonzales warning viewers about the depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems related to sexual orientation change efforts.

That evening, Ex-Gay Survivors Christine Bakke, Jallen Rix, Anthony Venn-Brown (Australia), Darlene Bogle, Mark Orozko (Barcelona) Daniel Gonzales, and Jacob Wilson told their stories to the conference participants – demonstrating great courage and strength in the process. They shared the many ways in which heterosexism encourages reparative therapy. After a brief welcoming reception, conference goers attended a special Transgender Day of Remembrance event by viewing two films and the names of the more than one hundred transgender people who have been murdered in the past year. Friday night was a sobering reminder of the damage and destruction caused by heterosexism, religion-based bigotry, and societal prejudice. Conference participants went to bed eager to begin collaborating over the next two days on ways they can make the world a safer place for LGBTQ people.

Saturday morning began with a keynote from Dr. Sylvia Rhue of the National Black Justice Coalition. Mixing facts and humor, Dr. Rhue set the tone for the day and whet appetites for more learning. Workshops throughout the day covered detailed information about sexual orientation change efforts, public policy and the ex-gay movement, media training, youth activism, and the psychological impact of childhood homophobia on adult development. Dr. Jack Drescher closed the afternoon with a history lesson on how homosexuality was removed from the DSM list of mental disorders in 1973 and the evolution of reparative therapy and ex-gay movements. His academic presentation was well received by all those in attendance. After dinner, the day closed with a powerful and moving dance performance by Ollum Movement Art which symbolically expressed the journey from self-hatred to self-acceptance and love.

Sunday morning was a treat. The Rev. Deborah Johnson talked about the importance of developing a vision within the LGBTQ movement and carefully unpacked the complexities of gender in our culture as she called on the crowd to demand equality in bold and unapologetic ways. After a series of workshops on faith, gender, and sexual orientation, Dr. Marsha McDonough and Dr. Paul Dodd led participants in an analysis of the weekend and helped everyone think about ways they could continue to affect change within the communities where they live, work, go to school, and worship.

Throughout this dynamic weekend, conference participants wrote thoughts, feelings, and ideas on a 40-foot piece of paper hung in the plenary room. Long after the end of the conference, participants were still writing on this paper – indicating their passion for the justice, their commitment to love, and their dedication to being agents of change in the world.

Click here to view conference photos.

Jeff Lutes resigns as Soulforce Executive Director

Soulforce Regrets to Announce the Resignation of Our Executive Director

Brief Video of Jeff Lutes

A Message from Soulforce Co-Founder Mel White:
Soulforce regrets to announce the resignation of our Executive Director, Jeff Lutes, after nearly four years of dedicated service. Jeff has chosen at this time to return to his family counseling practice in Austin, Texas, and to spend more quality time with his husband, Gary Stein, and their three young children, Niko, Trei, and Jole’. You may stay in touch with Jeff at www.jefflutespsychotherapy.com.

The Soulforce board of directors has appointed Bill Carpenter, who has served as Director of National Actions for many years, as Interim Executive Director. Bill will work with Soulforce staff to continue operations of the organization, including the upcoming Equality Ride in early 2010. Bill has a long history of service to Soulforce, since our very first action in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1999, and I’m grateful to him for taking this role at an important time in Soulforce history. I believe he is uniquely qualified to serve as Interim Executive Director while we undertake a nationwide search for the next Executive Director of Soulforce.

In January 2006, Jeff succeeded me as Executive Director of Soulforce. We are grateful for all he has accomplished in his time as Soulforce Executive Director. Here are a few examples:

  • Organized nonviolent direct actions in 2005 and 2006 outside the world headquarters of Focus on the Family. Those protests clearly demonstrated the tragic consequences of James Dobson and his antigay rhetoric and are featured in the films For The Bible Tells Me So and SoleJourney, both distributed by First Run Features.
  • Originated the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in 2007 which exposed the misinformation campaign of Exodus International and spoke clearly to the damage being done by its ex-gay ministries across the country. The conference brought 200 survivors of ex-gay ministries together from all around the world for healing and empowerment. This much needed event received coverage on NPR and media outlets across the country, including CNN’s Paula Zahn.
  • Created The American Family Outing in 2008 which took dozens of LGBT couples and their children to dialogue with mega-church leaders Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Bill Hybels, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Harry Jackson, and Bishop Eddie Long.
  • Originated Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights which created rallies and vigils in 2007 and 2008 by heterosexual allies in 38 cities in 28 different states across the country.
  • Wrote the popular Soulforce booklets What the Science Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality, and A False Focus on My Family.
  • Produced Dear Dr. Dobson: An Open Letter Video , the DVD that challenges the antigay rhetoric of James Dobson and warns of its tragic consequences in the lives of LGBT people, their friends and families.
  • Managed Soulforce during the birth of our young adults program, Soulforce Q, and the first three Equality Rides.
  • Strengthened the reputation of Soulforce through countless print, radio and television interviews and by speaking at dozens of churches, universities and rallies around the country.

Jeff Lutes has led Soulforce through challenging times and we are grateful. Jeff will continue to write and speak powerfully about the role of relentless nonviolent resistance in our struggle against religion-based oppression. Again, we thank Jeff for his role in strengthening Soulforce and for modeling in his own life what it means to be a man of faith committed to doing justice on behalf of all those who suffer religion-based oppression.

– Mel White, Soulforce Co-Founder

                                                                                         

 

Adam

Adam grew up in Memphis, TN where in his early teens, he witnessed much of the civil rights movement, including nonviolent demonstrations and marches led by Dr. King, Rev. James Lawson and his brother Phil and other of his present day heroes. After graduating from the University of Alabama, he worked in business and marketing in retailing and real estate. Coming out as a 40 year old, he shifted his attention from a traditional business career to a life of service. Presently, Bill is an active student of Truth principles, active at his Unity church and as a trainer in welcoming diversity and in principles of nonviolence. Bill says one of his greatest Soulforce experiences was early in Soulforce history at the UMC convention in Cleveland, OH in 2000 hearing two of his s/heroes Bob and Jeanie Graetz tell about the "second time their house was firebombed" while living in Montgomery, Alabama.

The American Medical Association’s Ethics of Homosexuality

www.ama-assn.org

H-65.983 Nondiscrimination Policy
The AMA affirms that it has not been its policy now or in the past to discriminate with regard to sexual orientation (Res.1, A-93)

H-65.990 Civil Rights Restoration
The AMA reaffirms its long-standing policy that there is no basis for the denial to any human being of equal rights, privileges and responsibilities commensurate with his or her individual capabilities and ethical character because of an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, or age. (BOT Rep. LL, I-86; Amended by Sunset Report, I-96)

H-160.991 Health Care Needs of the Homosexual Population

(1) The AMA believes that the physician’s nonjudgmental recognition of sexual orientation and behavior enhances the ability to render optimal patient care in health as well as in illness. In the case of the homosexual patient this is especially true, since unrecognized homosexuality by the physician or the patient’s reluctance to report his or her sexual orientation and behavior can lead to failure to screen, diagnose or treat important medical problems. With the help of the gay and lesbian community and through a cooperative effort between physician and the homosexual patient, can effective progress be made in treating the medical needs of this particular segment of the population.

(2) The AMA is committed to taking a leadership role in:

  • (a) educating physicians on the current state of research in and knowledge of homosexuality and the need to take an adequate sexual history; these efforts should start in medical school, but must also be a part of continuing medical education;
  • (b) educating physicians to recognize the physical and psychological needs of their homosexual patients;
  • (c) encouraging the development of educational programs for homosexuals to acquaint them with the diseases for which they are at risk;
  • (d) encouraging physicians to seek out local or national experts in the health care needs of gay men and lesbians so that all physicians will achieve a better understanding of the medical needs of this population; and
  • (e) working with the gay and lesbian community to offer physicians the opportunity to better understand the medical needs of homosexual and bisexual patients.

(CSA Rep. C, I-81; Reaffirmed: CLRPD Rep. F, I-91; CSA Rep. 8 – I-94