Task Force on Report "Calculated Compassion"

WASHINGTON, DC---October 15, 1998---The following is a statement by National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Director Kerry Lobel on the new report "Calculated Compassion: How the Ex-Gay Movement Serves the Right's Attack on Democracy." The report is being released today, Thursday, October 15 at a press conference in Washington, DC. The report was authored by Surina Kahn of Political Research Associates.

In recent times, all of us who have felt the sting of discrimination and the slap of rejection because of our sexual orientation have applauded the steady march toward equality at all levels our society in recent years. In the courts and in the classroom, in the workplace and our churches, and in our own families -- we have seen a more open and accepting society unfold. The tolerance and diversity that results not only make life more livable for lesbians and gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. All Americans -- indeed our democracy itself -- derive enduring benefits when the vision of equality becomes a reality for those who were once oppressed.

But every once in a while, we are jolted by sad reminders like the death of Matthew Shepherd that upholding the rights of gay people remains an unfulfilled promise. And once again, we are reminded that the hateful heretics on the right -- the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council and their many conspiring collaborators - are vigilant and formidable adversaries. With millions of dollars to spend, they are dedicated to demeaning and defiling the gay community - even when their mean spiritedness is an affront to our basis traditions as a democracy.

They are also cunning in their campaign. By asserting that the ex-gay movement is borne out of love and compassion, they seek to shroud their homophobia in the highest principles of Christian belief. And many Christians, understandably, may be drawn to the movement if they didn't know better.

But we know better and we trust that the American people will too. The ex-gay movement ˆ and the ad campaign about it -- is simply one more weapon in the conservative arsenal of those who want to wage war against the rights of the gay community.

But we have the most powerful weapon of all in our arsenal. We have the truth.

As previous speakers today have pointed out, the Christian right lacks the support for its promotion of the anti-gay movement among the mainstream religious community. It lacks the scholarship of its arguments about reparative therapy among the psychiatric community. It has neither the constitutional authority nor the anecdotal evidence to justify its relentless campaign to "convert" gays to heterosexuality. Above all, it is bankrupt of the very virtues it espouses love and compassion.

So these righteous advocates hearken back to the premise that homosexuality is an immoral affliction - and a sin to be overcome. This baseless notion would be easily dismissed on its face if it weren't for fundamentalist fellow travelers in the political world: Like Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who compared homosexuality to alcoholism and kleptomania; or Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles, who called homosexuality immoral, or Senator Jesse Helms, who has called us nearly everything, including sickening.

In other words, the campaign against the rights of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals is pervasive and comprehensive. And so should our response be. It is important that religious leaders encourage people of faith to pray and act on behalf of righteousness. But that alone it is not enough. It is important that civil rights advocates from elected officials to the public intere change in the laws and the public mindset. But that alone is not enough. It is important that the gay community and those who support them continue to believe in themselves. But that alone in not enough. We must meet head on the assembled array of advocates who would deny us our rights and our identity with our own united front. And today, we at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are proud to join in that effort with our friends and colleagues in the religious and academic communities to unmask the Christian right's Ex-Gay campaign for what it is: a campaign of hatred and hypocrisy that affronts and offends both the religious and democratic traditions of our nation.

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