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Washington, DC — July 15, 1998 — DignityUSA finds this week's advertising campaign supporting ex-gay ministries to be misleading and destructive, and not representative of Catholic teaching.

Full-page newspaper advertisements appearing in the New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today and paid for by conservative Christian groups say that homosexuals could change their sexual orientation by accepting God's love.

"The message in this ad campaign is misleading and wrong. These groups are telling lesbians and gay men that God's love is exclusive. The truth is that God's love is inclusive and knows no bounds, " says Charles L. Cox, Executive Director of DignityUSA. He said, "Once again, we are seeing the words and spirit of Christ's message misused by the Radical Right. Their message is plain and simple: You cannot be a lesbian, a gay man, a bisexual or a transgender person and be a person of faith. Like the advertisements and the sponsors' campaign -- they are wrong."

Since its founding in 1969, Dignity reaches women and men who seek to integrate their gifts of faith and sexual orientation. Our ministry has empowered an entire generation of Catholic lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons to respect themselves as valued, productive members of our Church and society.

Also, commenting on this latest attack from conservative extremists, DignityUSA President Robert F. Miailovich said, "The ads stand in stark contrast to the spirit and message of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' 1997 letter Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers. The letter, though imperfect, tells us: 'God loves every person as a unique individual. Sexual identity helps to define the unique persons we are. One component of our sexual identity is sexual orientation. Thus, our total personhood is more encompassing than sexual orientation. Human beings see the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.' " The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: "Everyone . . . should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity."

Always Our Children goes on to say "it is appropriate to understand sexual orientation . . . as a deep-seated dimension of one's personality and to recognize its relative stability in a person."

Miailovich also said: "Always Our Children reminds parents of homosexual persons that they should respect 'a person's freedom to choose or refuse therapy directed toward changing a homosexual orientation. Given the present state of medical and psychological knowledge, there is no guarantee that such therapy will succeed. Thus there may be no obligation to undertake it, through some may find it helpful.'

"And that is the truth! Too many people have gone down the change therapy road only to experience even greater pain than when they first came out as gay or lesbian. The groups supporting a change campaign instead of helping people live integrated lives are hurting women and men who have struggled, in some cases for years, to integrate their sexual orientation with their faith. To say that lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons cannot have a relationship with God is misleading and destructive. To say that homosexuality is a sin is wrong."

DignityUSA accepts the challenge to be questioned on our beliefs and position and is willing to share any podium, which the sponsors of the ad campaign or other interested parties may wish to make available.

DignityUSA, founded in 1969, is the nation's largest organization of Catholic lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons, and their loved ones, families and friends.