An anti-gay Maryland pastor who vehemently opposes same-sex marriage is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at an ‘ex-gay’ event that is slated to take place in D.C. on September 30.
Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church of Beltsville, Md., is expected to deliver remarks at the first annual Ex-Gay Awareness Dinner and Reception that Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX,) a group that says it advocates on behalf of “former homosexuals and their families,” will host in the nation’s capital. Liberty Counsel Chair Mat Staver and Trace McNutt, a self-described “former Satanic drag queen,” will be honored during the event.
Dennis Jernigan, a Christian singer who identifies as post-gay, is also scheduled to perform at the dinner.
Voice of the Voiceless, a Virginia-based organization that claims to defend the rights of “former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions and their families,” said a Capitol Hill lobby day to coincide with Ex-Gay Awareness Month will also take place on September 30.
“It is my great honor and privilege to address this historic celebration,” Jackson said in a press release that Voice of the Voiceless issued on Monday. “I know that I and many others will be encouraged to hear the amazing testimonies of the men and women who have left homosexuality when they share their stories on September 30.”
Voice of the Voiceless President Christopher Doyle applauded the controversial pastor in the same press release.
“Bishop Jackson has been a beacon of hope, a leader in the faith community and an example for all of us to follow,” Doyle said. “We are truly blessed to have such a powerful man of God address the first annual Ex-Gay Dinner and Reception on September 30.”
Groups challenge efforts to ban ‘ex-gay’ therapy to children
The D.C. event is scheduled to take place less than two months after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill that bans so-called “conversion therapy” to minors his state.
The Liberty Counsel last month filed a lawsuit in federal court that seeks to overturn the law on the grounds that it violates freedom of speech and religion under the New Jersey and U.S. Constitutions. The same group earlier this month appealed the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ August 30 ruling that upheld California’s 2012 law that bars licensed therapists in the state from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity and expression of a minor through “conversion” or “reparative” therapy.
Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who claims God delivered him from homosexuality and has previously compared gays to drug dealers and prostitutes, withdrew from a city-sponsored concert that took place at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Southwest Washington at D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s request. Rev. Patrick J. Walker, president of the Baptist Convention of the District of Columbia and Vicinity, is among those who criticized the decision to disinvite McClurkin.
Prince George’s County Public Schools earlier this year stopped using an anti-bullying campaign that Doyle, who is a psychotherapist, wrote that included “ex-gay” references.
Doyle said “anti-ex gay extremism” prompted him to postpone a dinner at the Family Research Council’s downtown Washington headquarters and other events that had been scheduled to take place in D.C. in July.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.,) who introduced a bill that would amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage a day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, are among those who received invitations to attend the dinner at the Family Research Council. Former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, who is president of the Heritage Foundation, also received an invitation to attend the dinner.
Doyle told the Washington Blade during an interview on Monday he received threatening phone calls and hate mail at his home addressed to him and his wife after Voice of the Voiceless announced the July events.
Organizers of the September 30 event will vet those who register before they receive information. Doyle told the Blade attendees will also have to sign “a values policy” that states they “agree with the terms of ex-gay awareness and that they’re a supporter.”
He declined to say where in the D.C. area the gathering will take place.
“We’re not opening to just anyone who wants to come,” Doyle told the Blade. “Unfortunately we just get too much heckling and too many people who have bad intentions of coming to this and they’re not very supportive of our cause. I wish it wasn’t like that. I wish I could just open the doors for anybody to come.”
Besen: D.C. event ‘desperate, last gasp’ for ‘ex-gay’ movement
The American Psychological Association, the Pan American Health Organization and the majority of other leading mental health groups oppose “reparative” or “conversion” therapy. Alan Chambers, executive director of Exodus International, the oldest and largest “ex-gay” organization, in June apologized for the “pain and hurt others have experienced” before he announced his group was shutting down.
Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, an LGBT advocacy group that challenges the “ex-gay” movement, dismissed both Doyle and the scheduled September 30 events.
“What we are really looking at is a desperate, last gasp of air for a failing industry,” Besen told the Blade. “In the West, this psychological voodoo has been thoroughly discredited and nearly vanquished. This is why it is in the hands of people like Doyle, who have no credibility and little expertise.”