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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

ACLU Bitch Slaps Exodus International



Exodus International, a self-described "ex-gay" "ministry," thought they'd strong-arm a blogger to get him to delete an image he created that parodied a billboard they were so proud to have erected. They hired the Liberty Council, a conservative law group that — among other noble causes — seeks to eliminate all hate crimes legislation, to send him a poorly-written (and even more poorly-researched) cease-and-desist letter.

One call to the ACLU later: bitch slap!

My favorite part of the letter in which the ACLU (in partnership with the law firm of Fenwick & West) extensively responds to the warrantless claim:
…(T)he starkly different text “Straight” and “www.gay.com” added by Mr. Watt ridicules the original Exodus photo, highlighting the absurdity of suggesting that people can — or should — change their sexual orientation.
The blogger, Californian Justin Watt, details the whole imbroglio here. He says:
"The moment I saw the billboards last September, I was deeply offended. The inspiration for the parody I created came to me instantly. How would straight people feel if their very being, their sense of self was being so overtly disparaged? Their response was to try to intimidate me into taking the image down. It's troubling that an organization as big as Exodus would go to such great lengths to silence its critics.
In a gratifying twist, it turns out Watt is straight — but extremely not narrow-minded.

Speaking for the ACLU, staff attorney Ann Brick said:
"Parodies like Justin's are protected by the First Amendment as a form of political commentary. His point was to make a comment on a very important issue he has strongly held beliefs about: that Exodus's tactics are wrong, that there's nothing wrong with being gay, and that being gay doesn't make you unhappy. Just as a group like Exodus has a Constitutionally protected right to say whatever it wants to about gay people, even when that view has been roundly condemned by every major psychological and medical organization, Justin has a right to use parody to voice his opposition."
Poor Exodus — they just can't win. If it's not bloggers making their billboards look absurd, it's people on the streets with a yen for ridiculing homophobes by defacing property.

Additional information about the case, as well as statements from mainstream mental health and medical organizations denouncing reparative therapy, which Exodus claims can "cure" gay people, is available on the ACLU web site, here.

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