Tuesday, June 28, 2005

TAKE ACTION!

"Common Sense New Yorkism" is devoting its entire blog (and spare time) to fighting for Zach!
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UPDATE: I am enrolling my local GLSEN and ACLU branch into this fight. Today I am visiting personally my local ACLU, GLSEN, and GLAAD. To make a difference, mail the below letter to Donna Lieberman, Exec. Dir., NYCLU, 125 Broad St. - 17th fl, NY, NY 10004
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I am formulating a draft letter with a Texas-based GSA (Gay Straight Alliance), and some local LGBT civil rights groups and we will be taking action on this. If YOU want to take action, e-mail or mail the following letter which I wrote myself to groups listed after the letter (PLEASE feel free to edit):
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To whom it may concern,

You may or may not have heard of the growing controversy over the program sponsored by Christian group
Love in Action that takes gay youths and "indoctrinates" them into a straight lifestyle. This has been reported on by such bloggers as popular Daily Kos and it has even been reported on CNN.
Recently, Love In Action has taken in a youth known as Zach, who wrote about the program on his
myspace before he was forced to go to the camp by his parents. His postings inspired LGBT groups to protest outside the Tennessee camp, as well as leading to outpourings of support from all over the nation, including from celebrities such a Margaret Cho.
While it is revolting to see such groups trying to convert gays into heterosexuals, it is fine if it involves a consenting adult voluntarily entering into the program. It becomes different when a gay child is forced into such a program, and indeed may in fact be very dangerous. I really am concerned for Zach, but in a broader sense I am concerned that there is not more outrage in regards to LGBT youth being forced to attend such camps.
I am concerned about the legality of such practices, and the effect that this program is having on Zach, who has written on his blog that the program has made him suicidal, In fact, Rev. John Smid, the head of this camp, said the following: "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle." Some of the rules of the group which outrage me include the use of public humiliation and solitary confinement as punishments, as well as kids not being allowed to have any physical contact with another human being besides an authorized hand shake or pat. These rules are posted on Zach's blog.
Please contact me as soon as you can. I feel strongly about this, but I'm just one person, I need help trying to figure out how I can take action. Thank you.

Sincerely,

[your name]
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Send to:
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- ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
Website: www.aclu.org
Email: contact form on site
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- Amnesty International (USA Branch)
Website: www.amnestyusa.org
Email: admin-us@aiusa.org
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- Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
Email: hrc@hrc.org
Fax: 202/347-5323
Website: hrc.org
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- Oprah Winfrey
Contact Form: http://www2.oprah.com/email/reach/email_reach_fromu.jhtml
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- Lambda Legal (A Gay-Centric Legal Service)
Website: www.lambdalegal.com
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- Tennessee Equality Project (A Gay Rights Group In Tennessee)
Email: info@tnep.org
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- National Libertarian Party (political party dedicated to human rights)
Website with Contact Info: http://www.lp.org/organization/lncdirectory2.shtml
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- News Networks:
CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/feedback
MSNBC:
viewerservices@MSNBC.com
FOX:
Viewerservices@foxnews.com
Memphis Local:
ABC/UPN:
jimturpin@clearchannel.com
NBC: pphillip@wmctv.com
CBS: sengstacke@wreg.com
FOX:
fox13news@foxtv.com
Independent Media:Free Speech TV:
eric@freespeech.org
Democracy NOW!:
http://www.democracynow.org/storyidea.pl
Independent World Television: contact@iwtnews.com

8 Comments:

At 8:26 PM, Anonymous emma said...

who at GLSEN did you contact? I could get you a much faster response seeing as I am an active volunteer for the NY office and have been on various leadership teams of theirs which sent me all over the country to start GSA's. Let me know what I can do to help.

 
At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Geoffrey said...

Drafted to the ACLU. As soon as I'm sure I'm clear on all the facts, I'll send it.

Dear Friends,

You've probably heard by now of the alarming situation of "Zach," a young gay male detained against his will by the ministry organization "Love in Action" in an attempt to change his sexual orientation. As you undoubtedly know, therapeutic interventions intended to change sexual orientation have been denounced as ineffective, unethical, and potentially harmful by virtually every research and professional organization whose work bears upon the matter, including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Organization, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Nevertheless, Zach's parents have seen fit to sign him up for this.

It's bad enough that adults making their own misinformed decisions get roped into change ministries, but for an adolescent to be interned in one against his will is an atrocity. This is very likely a matter of life or death for Zach. Gay youth have long been known to be at disproportionate risk for suicide specifically because they are so often forced with a choice between an inauthentic life and the rejection of their family and friends. A blog which has been following this action doggedly quoted the camp's head, Rev. John Smid, as saying to Zach "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle."

There is an even larger issue at stake here that is of interest to every civil rights organization. Zach has been imprisoned against his will. His communication with the outside world is restricted, which is why better information on his situation is unavailable. The purpose of his detention has nothing to do with his own health or rehabilitation, as everyone knowledgable on these issues (including, very likely, the change ministry staff themselves) agrees that change ministries do not serve those purposes. Love in Action detains Zach in hopes of winning an ideological victory. Love in Action, if the quotes are to be believed, has confronted Zach with a choice between death and conformity to an ideology. He is a pawn in an ideological war in which civil rights organizations are on the front lines.

Zach is a political prisoner as surely as are the inmates in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Surely organizations like Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union can stand up for the rights of this political prisoner. Love in Action must be held accountable for this injustice and Zach restored to his family, which has now swelled to include thousands of people nationwide who have stood for him. A victory over Zach would deal a catastrophic blow to conservative ideology and, more importantly, free him to live whatever life he may create for himself. I ask for your commitment to this.

In Solidarity, etc.

 
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