US: Former leaders of 'ex-gay' movement issue public apology

Anthony Cuesta | June 29, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Former leaders of a top ex-gay ministry issued a public apology Wednesday for any isolation, shame and fear that may have stemmed from their efforts to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals.

In a statement released outside the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, three former leaders of the interdenominational Christian organization Exodus International said they had become disillusioned with promoting gay conversion.

"Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families," the three said, reports the Associated Press.

The statement was from former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, Jeremy Marks, former president of Exodus International Europe, and Darlene Bogle, the founder of Paraklete Ministries, an Exodus referral agency.

The statement coincided with the opening of Exodus' annual conference, which is being held this week at Concordia University in Irvine.

According to a CNN poll released Wednesday, the majority of Americans (56 percent) said they do not believe sexual orientation can be changed. That statistic jumped from the 45 percent that a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found in 2001. In 1998, the number was 36 percent, according to a CNN/Time poll.

Still, there are many who would disagree.

"I came out of homosexuality," said ex-gay man and Exodus President Alan Chambers on CNN's �Paula Zahn Now� Wednesday night. "There are thousands of people like me who have overcome this. I think there's room for more than one opinion on this subject, and giving people options isn't dangerous,"

Founded in 1976, the Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus has grown to include more than 120 ministries in the United States and Canada and over 150 ministries overseas. It promotes "freedom from homosexuality" through prayer, counseling and group therapy. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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