Palm Springs Unity Rally Spokesperson Misleads Readers

Claire Jordan Grant, in an op-ed today, again misleads readers by saying Dr. Joseph Berger’s article regarding gender variant kids was published/written by Love Won Out/Focus on the Family. This is an extension of her false claim on the Unity Rally website about the Schoenewolf article. Ex-gay Watch agreed that the false claim should be removed and indeed advised the Unity Rally of this. I wrote a comment in the forum on the Desert Sun website. This was followed by Jason Cianciatto of the NGLTF who contends that I attempt to distract readers. I invite readers here to go over and have a go at commenting on the matter.

17 thoughts on “Palm Springs Unity Rally Spokesperson Misleads Readers”

  1. A friend of mine attended the conference in the morning and the rally in the afternoon. He commented that it seemed to him that at “mission field was outside while Focus on the Family stayed inside preaching to the choir.”

  2. I talked to 100-150 people that day in a number of different settings to get their impressions of the day’s FOTF event. I talked to people on the protest bus, “marchers” in front of the chruch, rally organizers, some media reps and people in the crowd. Later that day, I also hit a gay resort and talked to some guys “hanging out” poolside, some folks at dinner and some patrons at Toucan’s bar that night.

    Here is what I found:

    (1) With the execption on the organizers, the guys from “Exgay Watch”, some local gay affirming clergy and myself, very few people really KNEW or CARED much.

    (2) Those who did know, definitely thought of the conference as a “Focus On the Family Event”.

    (3) No one liked FOTF.

    (4) Very few knew of EXODUS — except some who had “survived” an “ex-gay” group and some others who “knew someone who got really messed up by one”.

    (5) “NARTH what?” No one knew or CARED what NARTH was. The word reminded some of “DARTH VADER” — the Star Wars villian.

    (6) They were all going to be relieved when the circus left town. No one, except some Rally Speakers, used the word HATE. “STUPID” was the term I heard most often.

    Overall, I got the feeling that most people who DID know werre irritated, but not angry, the FOTF roadshow had hit town. They seemed to have better things to do — like enjoying their lives, their families, their gay-friendly valley and all its natural beauty. Maybe, I should do the same.

  3. Apparently, LWO tends to “mislead” folks as well. This rom the Desert Sun:

    “Love Won Out media director Gary Schneeberger said the event was not aimed at influencing political decisions on gay marriage, domestic partner benefits or gay adoption. But in at least one of the conference sessions the speaker highlighted gay marriage ballot initiatives and told the audience arguments they could use against gay marriage advocates.”

    “National same-sex marriage could also mean a very real threat to our religious freedom,” Bill Maier, a Focus on the Family vice president, told the group.

  4. Here is what The Desert Sun had to say about the peaceful protest outside the church:

    “Protesters started gathering on Fred Waring Drive outside Southwest Community Church about 7:30 a.m. Saturday to make a peaceful statement against the Love Won Out conference sponsored by Focus on the Family. Being careful to stay on the sidewalk and off of private property, they marched and carried signs. A group on the corner waved and yelled, “Good morning!” to cars driving into the church.

    “It’s not about shouting slogans,” said Pam Erwin of Palm Springs, who held a sign that read, “I reconciled my faith and sexuality.”
    “Whatever your religious belief, there’s no room for hate,” she said.

    Michael Bussee of Riverside said he was one of the founders of event organizer, EXODUS International, and used to believe that it was possible to change homosexual behavior, until he fell in love with a man in EXODUS.

    Bussee said he doesn’t think organizations like EXODUS are hate organizations. “I just believe that the message that they send … reinforces cultural attitudes that being a homosexual is bad and that any decent person would want to change.”

  5. What can I say? The organizers were polite and tolerant towards me. I did not ask to speak and they did not ask me to. It would have powerful, I think, for the crowd at the Unity Rally to have heard some stories of survivors of “ex-gay” groups, or some information (from some “expert”)about what these groups acutally believe and teach.

    One organizer told me she planned to announce to the crowd that I was “going to be on the grounds all day if anyone had any questions about the “Ex-gay” movement”, but I think it slipped her mind. They also did not mention Exgay Watch or its information and research about all things “ex-gay”.

    The “focus” seemed to be more on expressing displeasure with:

    (1) FOTF for coming into town “spreading lies, divisiveness and HATE”. (I thanked one speaker, Nick Warner, for reminding the crowd that it ws IGNORNANCE, not hate.)

    (2) The Mayor of Palm Springs for “welcoming” the conference to Palm Springs — when the conference was actually in another city.

    (3) George Bush, right-wing politics and the war in Iraq and all things Republican.

    One organizer asked me to be “careful” about passing out Olive Branches or the card that read: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. She said “some people had expressed concern about the religious message”. I think they might have been a little worried that I planned to pass out the “Four Spritutal Laws” or something.

    I was reminded that this event was THEIR, “local” expression on “their civil rights”. I politely but pointedly replied that I was only trying to express my own. She said she “understood”. Many folks asked for the cards and Olive Branches.

    Again, I was treated with tolerance and respect and the organizers had other things to attend to.

  6. As you may know, I was not the least bit impressed with the Unity Rally folks. My comments are on a different thread here.

    And it looks like Daniel Gonzales at Ex-Gay watch shares my sentiments. When I get some time this evening, I’ll try to post my thoughts on my web site as well.

  7. I attended the peaceful two hour morning “walk” outside the church. We greeted those driving into the very nice grounds of the church. We waved, smiled, said “good morning”. Some of us had small olive branches. About a third carried nothing. Some had (tasteful) signs.My favorite sign was one that read, “Warning: Junk Science Ahead” — I assumed it was a reference to NARTH.

    The march was completely peaceful — a beautiful early Fall morning in a very affluent “golf course and coutry club” neighborhood. I was told the annual income was over $600,000 a year. I met quite a few of the local gay or gay-afffirming clergy and enjoyed talking to them.

    None of the cars stopped, many of the drivers actually smiled and waved back. We were so well-behaved that I think a lot of those folks coming to the conference thought we might be the welcome wagon from Focus on the Family! There were no “counter demonartatrators. No incidnents of any kind. We picked up a few stray pieces of litter, got back on the bus and left.

    We drove back into Palm Springs for the rally in the park — maybe 500 — 700 people? There were a few speeches, (nothing particularly memorable), an information table of gay-affirmeing organizations and churches and a couple of songs about “love”.

    At the Unity Rally itself, none of the speakers made any mention of NARTH or the articles. (I could tel some of those attedning had no fondness for the Mayor — who did not attend.) Mingling and talking to folks at the rally, no one seemed to know (or care) what NARTH was or what NARTH had to say about ANYTHING. In fact, when I mentioned “NARTH” to anyone I met, they pretty much uniformly responded, “what’s that”?

    A few DID know of EXODUS — having met someone who “went through that and it really (bleeped) him up…” or “my parents tried to make me go through that”. Most people seemed only vaguely aware of what EXODUS was.

    I realized that the only people who DID know were some of the conference organizers, two or three other protestors, the 3 or 4 guys from “ex-gay watch” and me.

    On the other hand, everyone DID seem to know the name “Focus on the Family”. Whenever it was mentioned from the podium, the crowded would give a collective sort of “groan” as though something had upset their stomach. Folks I talked to indicted they would be “relieved when FOTF packed up their tent and went HOME”

    I didn’t see the evening news, but Lisa Darden said the NBC station in town news ended it six o’clock coverage of the event with “perhaps we can agree to disagree after all.”

    By the way Warren, I hope you won’t be sad, but no one mentioned you all day. (Grin)

    Signed, your “on-the-spot’ reporter, Michael

  8. Wrong is wrong.

    To say that the article was published by FOTF or LWO is blatanly wrong, and should be corrected.

    Now, it wouldn’t be such a big deal if this was a more benign article…but given the fact that the article is so explosive and is racist, this gives us all the more reason to be careful here.

    As much as I don’t agree with Dr. Dobson’s religious views, I’m pretty sure he’s not a racist.

  9. It’s important to be accurate, but as a matter of saying they’re all tightly connected vs. they’re the same group, this is a pretty minor oopsie.

  10. Warren, we emailed them too. Correcting what was not correct.

    Will you post the critique of Fryrear?

    She has her own opinions, of course, but she also utterly misrepresented the true opinions of others in her op-ed. Far from supporting her, they disagree entirely.

    That’s called fraud where we come from.

    And not a peep from you?

  11. grantdale – This is not difficult. The organizers used a tactic that if (or when) used by someone of opposing ideology, you would all over it. They were informed about this by EGW people and by Michael Bussee, all of whom thought the organizers should simply make it clear who did and said what.

    I have no trouble assigning culpability to NARTH and have done so here.

  12. Warren,

    It is not inaccurate to describe NARTH and Focus (and hence LWO) as “these are the same people”.

    They are the same people. I know you do not need a list of names to prove that point.

    Focus funds the anti-gay campaign. NARTH pretends the scientific-sounding names for that campaign. And Exodus is the face on the billboard for that campaign.

    You’ll never get a job with the police in the Organised Crime Syndicate Unit at this rate… or as a business analyst.

  13. hi warren,

    just out of curiousity, how is your friend noe guitterez (sp?) I havent heard from him in awhile, and his website is down. reason why i ask is because he was on your video and he said he found his heterosexuality. i am just curious to see how he is now, whether those changes were permanent.

    all the best


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