A billboard advertising a Christian event in Phoenix on sexual identity was recently rejected by a national ad company.
Sponsored by Focus on the Family, the billboard design of the Love Won Out conference was considered to be potentially controversial. Clear Channel Outdoor refused to run the advertisement, disappointing the large family group. It was to read, "I questioned homosexuality: Change is Possible, Discover How."
Our local managers review each advertisement on a case-by-case basis to ensure that it meets the tastes and standards of the local community, explained a Clear Channel Outdoors representative in Cybercast News Service. Local managers reserve the right to reject advertising copy if it does not meet their community's standards for appropriateness or the copy is deemed offensive towards any business, group or individual.
Event coordinators disagree with the response, arguing that it is not hateful.
"It gives a hopeful message for those who are dissatisfied living homosexually and [shows] that there is an alternative they could consider," said Melissa Fryear, gender issues director for Focus on the Family, in Crosswalk.com.
The Arizona Human Rights Foundation (AHRF), an organization that was protesting the conference, was happy to see the billboard refused, but also said the rejection was against free speech.
AHRF representative Amy Kobeta said in Crosswalk.com, I would be upset if someone didn't advertise one of our conferences, and I think the reverse is also true.
The controversial billboard was eventually picked up by another advertising company in the Phoenix area as Focus on the Family held its event on Saturday.
The Love Won Out conference features nationally known experts on the homosexual issue, most of whom are former homosexuals. The purpose of the conference is to talk about gender issues openly while providing positive encouragement for change, which is often seen as discriminative.
The conference website describes the event as a dynamic one-day conference on homosexuality that balances truth-in-love with grace and compassion. It address issues such as whether people are born gay, if change is possible, and about gay marriage in society.
Since 1998, Love Won Out has hit major cities around the United States, receiving both criticism and praise.
The biggest controversy comes over the conferences proposition that gayness can be healed.
Upcoming Love Won Out conferences are scheduled for: Omaha, Neb., on Apr. 14; Irvine, Calif., on Oct. 13, and Indianapolis on Nov. 3. The conference is open for registration to the general public.