Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has made history as the first mother to be on the Republican presidential ticket, and she has the potential to bring a new perspective on issues that impact America's children to Washington and the White House. Indeed, since her introduction to the nation last week, Governor Palin has talked passionately about her family and her commitment to her five children. Unfortunately, however, little is known about her specific policy positions on issues impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids, their parents, schools and families. An event taking place on September 13 in Anchorage, however, could provide an important opportunity for the Governor -- and other moms and dads who also serve as elected leaders -- to weigh in on one of those issues . . . and take a strong stand for all families.
On Saturday, Anchorage will play host to the latest meeting of the "ex-gay" organization known as Love Won Out. The group, which proclaims that lesbian and gay youth can be "cured" of their sexual orientation, will be meeting at Abbott Loop Community Church. Ahead of the conference, however, Palin's own church, Wasilla Bible, has promoted the meeting, saying in a letter to congregants that, "You'll be encouraged by the power of God's love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality."
The truth, however, is that Love Won Out is about anything but the unconditional love for, and acceptance of, LGBT kids. In reality, it is a dangerous, harmful "reparative therapy" program that has been condemned by the American Psychological Association and that has a tormenting impact on many of the young people who attend.
Governor Palin needs to know the truth about Love, and America's parents and families need to know what Governor Palin thinks about harmful, anti-gay conferences that preach an anti-gospel doctrine of changing our kids, rather than embracing them.
Earlier this year, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) brought mothers, fathers and families from around the country to Orlando, Florida, for the most recent Love Won Out Conference. Their experiences, captured in a moving video documentary, showcase just how dangerous these conferences can be.
One after another, young people arrived at the conference with tears in their eyes and parents stoically marching them into the event against their will. The sight of supportive parents, carrying signs with slogans such as "We love our gay son just the way he is," were answered with smiles, outreached hands and silent but obvious "thank yous" from the kids being told they were somehow "less than" because of who they love. Inside the conference, organizers told these young people - who had the courage to simply be who they are -- that who they were just wasn't good enough. Outside, loving parents stood tall to remind them that yes they were.
On Saturday in Anchorage, the same story, with different kids, will play out again.
It is unfair, at this point, to assume that Governor Palin endorses so-called "ex-gay" therapy like that espoused by Love Won Out. Most Americans, after all, can probably empathize with being part of a group, movement or congregation that they don't agree with 100% of the time. But Saturday's event in Anchorage provides an important opportunity for the first GOP mom on the party's presidential ticket to make clear that she, as a mother and a public servant, will not condone, either explicitly or implicitly, such attempts at dividing our families and hurting our kids. She should seize that opportunity -- as should lawmakers of both parties -- and stand up as boldly and outspokenly for all of our kids as much as she has for her own.