In my opinion, one of the most pernicious and deliberate lies that the foes of LGBT civil equality disseminate is the myth that sexual orientation is a "choice" and that LGBT individuals can "change" their sexual orientation if they but want to do so.
Hence the rise of Christianist funded "ex-gay" ministries that prey upon tortured LGBT individuals and their families. They create a mechanism that endeavors to convince ill-informed politicians and others that LGBT citizens deserve no legal protections because they could be heterosexual (i.e, translate to mean "normal") but for their own refusal to change.
None of the legitimate medical and mental health associations agree with Christianist "ex-gay" ministries and their cheerleaders. Increasingly even former proponents of the "change" myth such as Warren Throckmorton are conceding that true "change," if it happens at all, is a rarity. Yet, the Christianist funded "ex-gay" organizations continue to peddle something worse than snake oil.
The dissemination of lies about gays being able to "change" and the effectiveness of reparative therapy is bad enough, but some of the "ex-gay" cheerleaders go even further; they attack and defame those who merely work to expose their dishonesty.
The president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, Greg Quinlan, in a television broadcast accused Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, of seeking to have him killed. Quinlan subsequently escalated the outrage by claiming that Besen had been fired by the Human Rights Campaign for misconduct.
Both claims are untrue and HRC has confirmed the falsity of the statement that Besen was fired in writing. Because PFOX has refused to withdraw the statements and expanded on its untrue statements, Wayne Besen has filed a defamation law suit against PFOX and Quinlan.
Here are highlights from the Truth Wins Out press release:
Truth Wins Out announced today that it has filed a defamation lawsuit against Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) and its President Greg Quinlan after he claimed on a television show that Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen tried to have him killed. The lawsuit (Case number: CL12000008-00) was filed in Virginia's Northumberland County Circuit Court where PFOX is headquartered. Norfolk attorney Michael Hamar will represent TWO.
"We will not let PFOX's outright lies and bizarre fabrications go unanswered," said TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen. "Greg Quinlan's false allegations were deviously designed to damage my reputation and that of Truth Wins Out. We look forward to vigorously challenging Quinlan's delusional version of events and debunking them in a court of law."
On October 7, 2011 Quinlan was interviewed on News-Plus with Mark Segraves (WDCW-TV). At the 10:38 mark of the show, Quinlan fabricates an alleged hit on his life. According to Quinlan:
"Truth Wins Out if you look further, including Wayne Besen. He's asked for people, you know, somebody needs to run Greg over. He needs to be hit with a bus. Somebody should inject him with AIDS. Those are the things that Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out says about me. That's pretty hateful rhetoric."
TWO sent PFOX a letter offering the group an opportunity to apologize for their smear campaign. Unfortunately, instead of taking the high road and expressing regret for his false and misleading charges, Quinlan angrily lashed out... In Quinlan's bizarre response, he defended his original character assassination with a second calumny that will be included in the defamation lawsuit. PFOX's President falsely claimed that Besen was fired from the Human Rights Campaign, where he served as Deputy Director of Communications from 1998-2003. In reality, Besen left HRC after five years on good terms to pursue a new career opportunity.
Yes, I am representing Besen and it will be interesting to see how the case plays out.
Northumberland County - where PFOX purports to have its principal office - is not the most progressive of areas (of course, the term "progressive" and Virginia in general are mutually exclusive) but the facts are the facts and the burden will quickly shift to PFOX. They will have to try and justify the untrue statements made about Besen.