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NOM hosting anti-gay conference in San Diego for college students

SAN DIEGO -- The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) will host its annual “It Takes A Family To Raise A Village” (ITAF) conference this weekend in San Diego, gathering some of the country’s most notorious anti-equality activists to peddle homophobic smears and misinformation to a group of college-aged students.

On May 30 to June 1, college students will gather at San Diego’s Town & Country Resort to participate in NOM’s fifth annual ITAF conference – a weekend-long event aimed at preparing college students to defend “traditional marriage.”

Last August, an undercover Equality Matters investigation revealed that NOM was using the conference to peddle a number of damaging anti-gay falsehoods, including the myths that children raised by same-sex couples are more likely to be sexually abused by their parents and are more likely to identify as gay themselves.

According to this year’s ITAF schedule, the conference will feature many of the same speeches that were presented in 2012, including:
•Jesus And Marriage: a lecture that claimed homosexual relationships are a greater sin than polygamy in the eyes of God.
•Paul And Homosexual Practice: a presentation that included the distribution of Bible verses condemning homosexuality, including a passage from Leviticus that calls for the death of gay people and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Speakers at this year’s ITAF include Robert Gagnon – a man who’s argued that gay people are “worthy of death” and who has peddled many of the most damaging myths in anti-gay activism. The conference will also feature a speech from NOM’s Cultural Director Thomas Peters, who last year told students that the Catholic Church “doesn’t believe in gay and lesbian people, per se.”

A new addition to this year’s ITAF is University of Texas at Austin sociology professor Mark Regnerus, a man who has been widely discredited by the scientific community since he published a thoroughly flawed paper last year implying that children raised by same-sex couples face a host of negative consequences, including increased risks of sexual abuse. In a recent interview, Darren Sherkat, the person in charge of reviewing the publication of Regnerus’ paper, concluded:

When we talk about Regnerus, I completely dismiss the study. It’s over. He has been disgraced. All of the prominent people in the field know what he did and why he did it. And most of them know that he knew better. [emphasis added]

Last year, several ITAF speakers cited Regnerus’ paper in order to promote damaging lies about same-sex parents. With Regnerus in attendance this year, that kind of misinformation is likely to continue.

Students at ITAF 2012 were also able to purchase a number of anti-gay books from the conference, including Gagnon’s “The Bible and Homosexual Practice,” which falsely claims that society’s “affirmation of a same-sex lifestyle will increase the incidence of pedophilic activity.”

It remains to be seen if this kind of anti-LGBT misinformation will be on display again at this year’s ITAF, but given the conference’s schedule and roster of speakers, it’s unlikely that NOM has decided to change its damaging rhetoric on LGBT people when it thinks it’s behind closed doors.

To read the Equality Matters blog, click HERE.