According to an article in the Washington Blade Online (article), Zach Stark (pictured left), a gay 16 ye

ar old from Bartlett, Tennessee, will be released soon from Refuge, an ex-gay camp for adolescents run by Love in Action, a group affiliated with Exodus International. He has been in the camp since early June.

A firestorm of media coverage, LGBT rights activism, Tennessee state investigations of the camp and ex-gay activism began after Zach posted entries about coming out to his parents and being sent to the ex-gay camp on his blog.

Joe Stark, Zach’s father, confirmed the identity of his son and his placement into the ex-gay camp on the Christian Boradcasting Network, where he also defended his actions.

“We felt good about Zach coming here … to let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him some options that society doesn’t give him today,” Stark said, “Until he turns 18 and he’s an adult in the state of Tennessee, I’m responsible for him, and I’m going to see to it that he has all options available to him.”

It is not known what type of effect the ex-gay camp has had on Zach. Before going into the camp Zach wrote about having suicidal feelings in his blog.

The gay media, blogs on the web, the Memphs area media and mainstream national media sources including the New York Times, have covered Zach’s story. With all of

the media attention, the debate over the legality and ethics of treating homosexuality has sprung back up.

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It is so good to know that out of the horror and tragedy which Zach has expereinced and is still experiencing, something good is coming out. Zach’s struggles have sparked a debate which was well overdue in American society.

In 1973, the American Psychological Association took homosexuality off its list of mental and psychological diseases. So this is the question I propose… Why isn’t illegal to force people into treatment to “cure” homosexuality, especially teenagers who are at the mercy of their parents and their decisions?

Hopefully, when Zach is released, he can get away from his parents. They are supposed to love him and protect him, instead they have done nothing but hurt him. belarus He will need to get away rom them and find a family that is supportive and loving. I just pray that Zach has not given into the bigoted and hatefilled ideology of the Ex-Gay Movement.

According to an article in the Asheville, North Carolina Citizen-Times (article), two separate and “diametrically opposed” groups will hold conferences in the next two months in the Western North Carolina Mountains. Exodus International, a group which seeks to convert gays to being straight, is holding their conference this week. Reconciling Ministries Network, an LGBT Methodist Church group will hold their conference September 2-5, 2005.

Exodus is meeting this week at the Southern Baptist Convention-owned Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain. The Reverend Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University and the Moral Majority, is scheduled to speak, as well as Dr. Nancy Heche, mother of Anne Heche, who was in a public relationship with actress Ellen DeGeneres. About 800 people have registered for the Exodus International “Freedom Conference.”

Reconciling Ministries Network, a United Methodist group, will be meeting September 2-5, 2005 at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference Center at Lake Junaluska, a center owned by the United Methodist Church. The group focuses on acceptance of all, no matter our differences in sexual orientation. Debate has erupted within the United Methodist Church over the allowance of the gay group to meet on church property. The Executive Director of the Center, Jimmy L. Carr, defended the Center’s decision to allow Reconciling Ministries to meet saying, “They are United Methodists. They asked for the space. We had it available. There will be some people who will not agree with what they stand for, but they are trying to bring some reconciliation around a very difficult matter in the life of the church. We don’t think that Lake Junaluska by hosting them either approves or disapproves of what they’re doing or of their program. We’ll host them as we do other programs as graciously as we can.”

In months past, a group of LGBT and LGBT-friendly people from various universities and colleges in North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee had tried to organize some type of protest of Exodus International’s conference. Word even reached UNCG through the internet. I haven’t heard anything mroe about it and it is unclear as to whether there will be any protests held.

For more about Exodus International’s Conference:
www.exodus2005.org

For more about the Reconciling Ministries Conference:
www.rmnetwork.org/convo

According to an article on 365gay.com (article), Canada has become the fourth country inthe world to legalize marriage for gay couples nationwide. Canadian marriage equality is the first in the Americas.

The Canadian Senate voted 45-21 to pass the legislation and it is expected to be signed into law soon. The legislation was passed in the House of Commons on June 28.

It is nice to know that a nation in the Americas has taken the steps to legally recognize the loving, committed relationships of all its people, gay or straight.

With Canada’s approval of marriage equality, maybe America can grow closer to the point at which we might be able to one day do the same.

Many more conservative minded persons and people with more conservative religious views have voiced concern over marriage equality. I understand their concern; they are concerned that the government will force them to accept something which they believe is wrong. The Canadian government should do all that it can in order to make these more conservative minded people more comfortable with their decision to have marriage equality. It must be understood that no one wishes for anyone to abandon their principals and that no church will be forced into doing what it does not want to do. There must be room for respect and acceptance on both sides of the issue here: The government must respect and accept LGBT persons and their relationships, but the government must also respect and accept those persons who may not totally agree.

Respect and acceptance is what will either make or break this new marriage equality in Canada. If conservative minded people feel as though the government is threatening them, they will not respect the government and will work even harder to stop marriage equality. IF LGBT persons feel as though the government is threatening them, they will not respect the government. As a nation, Canada must build bridges and bring its citizens together.

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NC wife sues husband’s gay lover

According to an article on Express Gay News (article), a North Carolina woman has sued the lover of her husband for alienation of affection and “criminal conversation” (according to the article, the term used in “civil lawsuits to refer to sexual intercourse between a defendant and the plaintiff’s spouse”).

In the lawsuit, Pamela Lavone Putjenter alleges that Stephen Glenn Barefoot of Durham began to “willfully and intentionally seduce, entice and alienate the affections” of her husband, Ronald Joseph Putjenter.

Ms. Putjenter claims that her husband admitted to the affair and they have since separated. Mr. Barefoot said of the complaint, “It’s news to me.”

North Carolina is one of only a handful of states which still allow alienation of affection lawsuits. They are rare and suits involving same-sex lovers are even more rare.

So here’smy opinion on this whole thing: Since North Carolina has a Defense of Marriage Act which makes it possible to legally recognize only relationships between opposite sex couples, the relationship between Mr. Putjenter and Mr. Barefoot cannot be legally recognized, whether that be in the form of marriage or in the form of an alienation of affection suit.

I guess the State and its people should learn that if you want to discriminate, you can’t turn around and then say the people who you have discriminated against are equal and should be held to the same standards as yourself. You can’t have it both ways. If gay relationships aren’t good enough for marriage, then they should not be good enough for alienation of affection cases.

We are either all equal or not… I say lets go for the all equal part. Then maybe Ms. Putjenter will be able to fairly sue and hold accountable both her cheating husband and his lover (because it wasn’t just the lover who was to blame in this situation, now was it?).