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5 Reasons the 'Pray Away the Gay' Movement Is as Vile as Ever

While some "ex-gay" leaders say they no longer believe sexual orientation can change, their organizations are just as dangerous as ever.

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No major mainstream media outlet has focused on this aspect of the story to date.

2. The “happily hetero-married gay” ideal. In his open letter, Chambers wrote that although he still experiences what he calls “same-sex attraction,” he is currently in a happy heterosexual marriage. Weed is also in a heterosexual marriage. He insists that honesty and intimacy in his marriage have “resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight.”

So, even if orientation cannot change, the message remains the same: Heterosexual marriage is the ideal. As Toscano puts it, “I don’t question that these guys have enjoyed being married. The problem is that they stand up as models, saying, ‘This has worked for me, and it can work for you too.’ That’s what becomes deceptive and dangerous -- this idea that being heterosexual is superior to being anything else -- that it is God-ordained and natural. What they’re not telling you is that this has failed miserably for the vast majority of people who have tried it. So, you’re not getting truth in advertising at all.”

The issue is not whether or not certain LGBT individuals are “happy” in heterosexual marriages. The problem, as Toscano puts it, is that “they are offering people a way to destroy a part of themselves that they say is harmful, dangerous, sinful, and inferior.”

As for Exodus, Chambers claims the “focus has never been about making people straight. We understand that people are going to experience different things…I got married…because I fell in love with my wife. I am attracted to her. I do love her in every aspect of the word. Our relationship is very healthy and very normal. And for me that’s my reality.” He admits that people entered Exodus under false pretenses in the past, but equivocates over whether or not Exodus had a direct hand in misleading them. Now, he says, he hopes to make sure people come in with more realistic expectations.

3. The anti-gay politics. Toscano is adamant: “At its core, the ex-gay movement has been, and continues to be, an anti-gay movement.” Indeed, Exodus International was a prominent supporter of California’s Proposition 8. Chambers tells AlterNet, “Four years ago, we decided to leave public policy and anything related to it behind.” But in fact, Chambers lamented the judicial overturn of Proposition 8 just two years ago, saying, “It’s disappointing that a judge would rule against the will of the people. That’s the greatest tragedy.” Exodus also receives charitable donations from Chick-fil-A, whose president recently doubled down in his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Exodus’ anti-gay activism goes back even further. As Toscano points out, “This is a system that has organized and funded the oppression of queers for this past generation.” As the Christian right became highly politicized over the past three decades, Gerber explains at Religion Dispatches, “Exodus and their members became attractive partners to Christian right institutions. Supporting people ‘struggling with same-sex attraction’ became useful cultural evidence that these seeming haters had a compassionate side.”

Of course, the assertion that “homosexuality is a choice” has been central to nearly every anti-gay movement in the United States over the past 20 years. It bears a lot of responsibility for state-mandated discrimination against LGBT people, including the various anti-gay marriage constitutional amendments that have popped up in 37 states over the past few decades. The claim was also a central talking point in May among supporters of North Carolina’s nationally maligned Amendment 1, which was considered one of the most extreme anti-gay pieces of legislation in the country.

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