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Gay Mayor To Attend 'Ex-Gay' Conference

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Gay Mayor To Attend 'Ex-Gay' Conference

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

August 31, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Palm Springs, California) Openly gay Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden announced Thursday that he will attend a so-called ex-gay conference sponsored by Focus on the Family to be held next month in at a local church.

Oden has been under fire from Palm Springs' sizable gay community for sending FOF a letter welcoming them to come to the region. FOF has been gleeful, even posting a copy of the letter in which he said he was "proud" to have the conference in the valley.

As pressure mounted Oden attempted to diffuse the anger by saying earlier this week that gays should not stage a noisy demonstration such as those held at similar events in other cities.

Instead, Oden said showing courtesy and kindness could lead to an "opportunity to talk" with people attending the "Love Won Out" conference.

Focus on the Family and Exodus International, the groups behind the conference, responded with an invitation to attend the session. Thursday he told a city hall news conference he intended to take up the offer.

"I definitely want to attend and have the opportunity to share my perspective," he told reporters. "If love has won out anywhere, it's in the city of Palm Springs."

Oden also said that he will bring several gays with him to talk to participants and offer an alternative view.

Oden made headlines in 2003 when he became the nation's first gay African American mayor. He announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election to seek a seat in the California Assembly but lost the Democratic Party primary race.

The controversial Love Won Out Conferences claim homosexuality is a choice that can be cured with prayer and therapy.

Earlier this month the American Psychological Association issued a stinging rebuke of the so-called ex-gay movement after Exodus International demonstrated in front of the APA convention in New Orleans. (story)

Exodus was angry that the APA would not recognize it at the convention. The APA noted that for more than three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure.

"The APA's concern about the positions espoused by [so-called conversion therapy groups] is that they are not supported by the science. There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Our further concern is that the positions espoused by NARTH and Focus on the Family create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish."

©365Gay.com 2006

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