Suit Close Wayne Besen’s Statement at Southern Baptist ConventionI am here to say that you cannot pray away the gay. And, if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you are fine just the way you are.

Unfortunately, the Southern Baptist Convention is one of the nation’s foremost promoters of so-called “ex-gay” ministries, which try to unsuccessfully change people from gay to straight – and destroy many lives in the process.

The cruel message delivered by the Southern Baptist Convention is that LGBT people are defective and less than whole. That we are sick, immoral, and sinful.

The “ex-gay” message is destructive and one of false hope. It is rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization in America, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Academy of Pediatrics. The American Psychiatric Association says that attempts to change sexual orientation can cause “anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior.”

I know this to be true, because I deal with the brave survivors of such ministries. Even after they escape, they deal with the lifelong trauma and mental scars associated with trying to change a core part of their being.

And it’s not just the gay victims of such ministries. By encouraging marriage to so-called “ex-gays”, the Southern Baptist Convention is harming spouses who enter unsustainable marriages.

How many families is the Southern Baptist Convention willing to sacrifice on the altar of false family values?

While the Southern Baptist Convention cannot change people from gay-to-heterosexual – they can change their harmful anti-gay policies.

First, they need to acknowledge that we don’t live lifestyles, but whole, rich and fulfilling lives.

Second, the Southern Baptist Convention should immediately apologize for the grave harm it has caused LGBT people.

Third, it should treat LGBT people with dignity, respect, and full acceptance.

The big story from the SBC’s annual meeting is the election of Fred Luter Jr. as the denomination’s first African-American vice president. This would have been inconceivable only a generation ago. Clearly, it is only a matter of time before a gay man or woman also leads the Southern Baptist Convention.

We look forward to this day. And, it is a day I guarantee will happen sooner than many people think.

Thank You