In Extending The Welcome Mat, Mayor Oden is In Danger of Becoming A Doormat For Focus on the Family’s Slick Public Relations Campaign, Says TWO

Miami Beach - Truth Wins Out questioned the wisdom today of Palm Springs mayor Ron Oden’s enthusiastic greeting of hate group Focus on the Family to his city. While the openly-gay mayor is well-intentioned, he may be giving an undeserved platform to an extremist group that claims he and others like him are mentally ill and morally inferior. TWO is concerned that in cheerily extending the welcome mat, Oden may end up as a doormat in Focus’ media savvy enterprise.

Upon finding out that Focus was bringing its ex-gay road show Love Won Out to town on Sept 23., Oden wrote the group an amiable letter saying he was “so proud” to have the conference in town even though it preaches “the truth that homosexuality is preventable and treatable.”

“The mayor made a mistake in helping legitimize one of the most virulently anti-gay and offensive organizations in the country,” said TWO’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “The Atlanta Braves baseball team barred Focus on the Family from ‘Faith Day’ last month because of its divisive message and we had hoped that Oden would also have stood firm in condemning this intolerant group.”

The headliner at Love Won Out is Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, the president of the fringe group, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). Nicolosi has written that, “I do not believe that any man can ever truly be at peace in living out a homosexual orientation.” Last week, he told the Australian Broadcasting Company that, “There is no such thing as a homosexual.”

Another speaker at the conference is Alan Chambers, the leader of Exodus International. On many occasions, he has advocated discrimination against homosexuals. Chambers told one Orlando publication, “As a property owner of Orlando, I wouldn’t rent to someone who is gay any more than I would rent to a person who is a practicing witch.” Recently, he told Family News in Focus, “I think their long-term goal is to portray themselves as equals, as people who are the same as heterosexuals, that their lifestyle is just as legitimate as heterosexuality.”

Additionally, Oden said he would accept an invitation from Focus on the Family to attend the conference. “I definitely want to attend and have the opportunity to share my perspective,” he said, according to the local newspaper, The Desert Sun.

“Oden should not have welcomed Focus on the Family any more than he would have welcomed a hate group targeting other minorities,” added Besen. “Now that he has unfortunately accepted their invitation, TWO urges Oden to use his scheduled ‘face time’ with Focus on the Family as an opportunity to challenge the group’s leaders on their scientifically and theologically inaccurate attacks on gay people.”

Love Won Out was founded by “ex-gay” leader John Paulk, who was photographed in a gay bar in Sept. 2000 by TWO’s Besen.

Truth Wins OUT is a non-profit think tank and educational organization that counters right wing disinformation campaigns, debunks the ex-gay myth, and provides accurate information about the lives of GLBT people.