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Advocates Seize Opportunity Provided by Controversial Ex-Gay Flyers

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Advocacy group Truth Wins Out filed a defamation lawsuit against Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.

CREDIT: istockphoto

In a continuation of the decade-long conflict between the two organizations, gay advocacy group Truth Wins Out filed a defamation lawsuit against ex-gay organization Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays last week.

The lawsuit alleges that PFOX president Greg Quinlan made false claims on WDCW-TV in October 2011 that TWO president Wayne Besen had called for him to be killed. 

“Truth Wins Out, if you look further, including Wayne Besen. He’s asked for people, you know, ‘somebody needs to run Greg over. He needs to be hit with a bus. Somebody should inject him with AIDS,’ ” Quinlan told host Mark Segraves (10:38). “Those are the things that Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out says about me.”

But Besen said he’s not sure where the comment originated.

“I have absolutely no idea where [Quinlan] came up with that,” Besen told Campus Progress. “It didn't happen, nothing close to it happened, nothing close to the same ballpark, the same city, the same planet. … He just invented it out of whole cloth.”

Prior to the TV interview, Quinlan sent Segraves material calling Truth Wins Out a “hate group.” As Truth Wins Out posts on their web site, PFOX board member Peter Sprigg is a member of the Family Research Council—an organization classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

PFOX made recent headlines when the group sent flyers home with high school children in Montgomery County, Md. Truth Wins Out replied to the flyer incident with an open letter to Superintendent Joshua Starr:

Do you want LGBT students under your jurisdiction to contact a group that browbeats them with guilt and shame and believes they should be “exported” or criminalized? Are you inadvertently encouraging pupils to reach out to a group that undermines their mental health by hurling demeaning, homophobic slurs and hurtful stereotypes?

The timing of the Montgomery County situation makes the impending lawsuit more likely to garner media attention. Besen told Campus Progress that he personally has been sparring with PFOX for over ten years.

“I wouldn't quite call this an escalation,” Besen said. “This has to do with the strategy of PFOX, and PFOX's strategy is to claim that ex-gays are the real minorities and they're the ones that are victimized by the gay community. I think that because they can't show any real ex-gay victims … they just have to invent them.”

Following Quinlan’s claims on WDCW-TV, Besen’s attorney sent a letter to PFOX offering them the opportunity to set the record straight. Quinlan posted a rambling, angry reply on the PFOX web site, telling Besen that he would relish the opportunity to countersue and “expose the hundreds of smears you and TWO have lodged against me and other pro-family advocates. … Little man, I’m calling your bluff.”

Bluff it wasn’t. Truth Wins Out is currently soliciting donations to help with the suit, and Besen said he’s confident that he’ll win. 

Shay O'Reilly is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @shaygabriel.

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